A 23-year-old Falls Township man was arraigned on charges he drove intoxicated into a tree at the corner of Makefield Road and Woolstone Drive in the township during a January 2012 car crash that claimed the life of his friend.
Clad in a striped button up work shirt, durable work pants and black shoes Jerel Wade appeared before District Justice Jan Vislosky Tuesday afternoon on charges of homicide by vehicle, involuntary manslaughter, driving under the influence, reckless driving and several other charges.
According to an affidavit of probable cause, Wade was found injured behind the wheel of his 2008 gray VW GTI shortly before midnight on Jan. 27, 2012. Unconscious friend Rodney Simmons sat next to him in the passenger seat.
Fire and rescue workers worked to free the men, who were not wearing seat belts.
Wade was taken to St. Mary Medical Center and recovered.
Simmons, on the other hand, never regained consciousness, the affidavit states. An autopsy found Simmons’ cause of death was "massive internal injuries."
While speaking to Wade in the back of an ambulance, a police officer detected a “very strong odor of an alcoholic beverage upon his breath,” the criminal complaint states.
The 23-year-old told the officer the duo was headed to drop Simmons off at his Bensalem residence after spending a portion of the evening at a friend’s house in Morrisville. The defendant told the policeman he was not sure what caused the crash, court records show.
Analysis of blood taken from Wade the night of the crash revealed he had a blood alcohol level of .107 percent. Police also determined he was traveling between 58 and 59 MPH in a 35 zone in the seconds leading up to the crash.
Before coming to rest against the tree, the VW drove on a grassy side yard. Investigators found no skid marks, according to the affidavit.
In court, Wade’s lawyer, Andrew Schneider, told the judge they were waiving the preliminary hearing and all charges were waived to county court for trial.
Vislosky set the bail at $100,000 unsecured bail and then Wade was released on his own recognizance. He was required to turn in his driver's license as part of an agreement with the court.
Following the hearing, the young man was booked at police headquarters.
Authorities did not release why it took nearly eleven months for the charges to be finalized.