Note: The following is a news release from the Office of the Bucks County District Attorney.
A Nockamixon Township, Bucks County woman pleaded guilty May 30 to vehicular homicide charges for causing a head-on crash last summer that killed a 21-year-old driver and seriously injured his 20-year-old girlfriend.
Jaclyn Jones, 30, of Foeller Lane, Ottsville, was impaired by a mixture of drugs and was driving with a DUI-suspended license at the time of the Aug. 30, 2017, crash on Rt. 611 in Bedminster Township, said Deputy District Attorney Robert D. James, who is prosecuting the case.
Killed was Christopher Marinelli of Bedminster Township, when Jones’ northbound Jeep Patriot crossed a double-yellow center line and struck Marinelli’s southbound Saturn SL1 sedan shortly after 9 p.m. He died at the scene of multiple blunt-force injuries.
His passenger and girlfriend, Gabrialle Otero, was flown from the scene and hospitalized in critical condition with skull and neck fractures, traumatic brain injuries and other fractures and internal wounds.
She underwent months of physical therapy, James said, and continues to suffer from headaches, anxiety, impaired vision, amnesia and other medical issues from the crash.
Jones, who suffered lesser injuries, was taken to St. Luke’s University Hospital in Bethlehem, where she consented to a blood draw. Testing by NMS Labs revealed that Jones’ blood contained amphetamine, clonazepam, oxycodone, topiramate and fentanyl in concentrations sufficient to have rendered her impaired, James said.
She pleaded guilty before Bucks County Common Pleas Court Judge Gary B. Gilman to homicide by vehicle while driving under the influence, aggravated assault by vehicle while DUI, homicide by vehicle, aggravated assault by vehicle, DUI and two summary driving offenses.
Gilman accepted the pleas and scheduled Jones to be sentenced Sept. 18.
Jones contested two charges of accidents involving death or injury while not properly licensed and requested a non-jury trial before Gilman, which is pending.
Two witnesses who had been in a vehicle in front of Smith’s Jeep on 611 told police she had been swerving and driving at irregular speeds, closing to within a half-vehicle length of their car before backing off, James said. The witnesses said they saw the Jeep swerve across the center line 10 to 12 times before the crash.
Gaby Otero later told police that Marinelli had picked her up that evening for a drive after work.
“The two were talking and listening to the radio and Ms. Otero was looking at her cell phone,” James said. “Chris was driving. Ms. Otero heard Chris begin to freak out and yell.”
“She looked up and observed headlights coming right at them in their lane of travel” at a high rate of speed, James said. “Ms. Otero told police that Chris attempted to get out of the way of that vehicle by swerving to the side of the road, but the car kept on coming at them.”
James said investigators found no evidence that Jones had tried to avoid the collision or applied her brakes. Afterward, witnesses said, her speech was slurred.
Jones’ parents told police their daughter takes prescription drugs as a result of Lyme disease, including oxycodone and clonazepam. They said she typically took the oxycodone around 8 p.m.
At the time of the crash, Jones’s license had been suspended because of two DUI convictions–one alcohol-related, the other drug-related. She had, however, successfully applied to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation for an Occupational Limited License (OLL), which permitted her to drive only to and from work and school, and only between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. on weekdays.
Investigators found that Jones had violated those conditions by going shopping at the Willow Grove Park Mall before heading home, stopping at a Wawa shortly before the crash at 9:11 p.m.
The case was investigated by the Bedminster Township Police Department and the District Attorney’s crash investigation team.