Jonathan H. Simmons pleaded guilty Thursday to the third-degree felony charge of leaving the scene of accident that results in death in the hit-and-run killing of Bristol Township man John Rearick, 23, in Bucks County Court. He now faces up to seven years in prison and $15,000 in fines.
Simmons also pleaded guilty to a second-degree misdemeanor of recklessly endangering another person, which carries a maximum two-year sentence and $5000 in penalties.
Bucks County Judge Wallace Bateman deferred sentencing for Simmons as part his guilty plea. The sentencing is expected to be in January so the court can review victim impact statements.
Bateman told Simmons, “You shouldn’t have been behind the wheel of a car. You shouldn’t have been on the road”
The Rearick family released a statement through their attorney.
Even though we are all still suffering from the tragic loss of John (JJ), we are grateful to the District Attorney's office including DA David Heckler and ADA Matt Hoover as well as the Middletown Township Police Department including Lieutenant Mellus for all of their efforts in pursuing and prosecuting this case.
Simmons, 27, of Atkins Ave in Bristol Township was driving on New Falls Rd on July 22 shortly after midnight when he fatally struck Rearick from behind. Rearick, who was walking in the roads travel lanes, suffered massive head trauma, died from his injuries seven days later at St. Mary Medical Center.
Two days after the accident, Middletown police obtained a surveillance video from Penn Jersey Auto showing the hit and run. The grainy black and white video confirmed what a passing motorist, who stopped to help Rearick, told police the night of the accident. The witness reported seeing a red Cadillac hit Rearick, pull to the side, and drive away, turning left into the Plumbridge section of Levittown.
Simmons turned himself in to police, on the advice of his minister, on August 7 and waived his preliminary hearing in September.
He read a statement at the hearing apologizing to the Rearick family and saying about the tragedy, “…I have to live with this every day.”
Simmons remains free $500,000 unsecured bond while he awaits sentencing.
John Rearick would have turned 24 this past Tuesday.