A Slatington man has been charged with homicide by vehicle and other offenses in a Whitehall Township crash that killed his mother, who was a passenger in his car, and a woman and her teen son, who were in another vehicle.
On Monday, Oct. 21, 2013, John Edward Mayer, 32, of 6055 Bottom Road, Slatington, was charged with three counts of homicide by vehicle, a third-degree felony; three counts of involuntary manslaughter, a first-degree misdemeanor; three counts of recklessly endangering other people, a second-degree misdemeanor; and summary offenses of driving at an unsafe speed, reckless driving, careless driving resulting in unintentional death and failing to stop at a traffic signal.
It is alleged in the affidavit that Mayer was traveling at a minimum speed of 86 miles-per-hour in a 30 miles-per-hour zone when the accident happened.
An affidavit of probable cause alleges:
At 6:10 p.m. on Feb. 23, 2013, Whitehall Township Officer Richard Garner was on duty in his marked patrol vehicle and was stopped at a red traffic signal at MacArthur Road and Eberhart Road. Garner’s vehicle was facing west on Eberhart Road, and a sedan was stopped in front of his patrol vehicle.
When traffic on Eberhart Road got a green signal, the sedan began to enter the intersection in an attempt to turn left. A pick-up truck ran the northbound red signal, striking the sedan. Both vehicles traveled north of the intersection for more than 100 feet.
Garner immediately stopped his vehicle and tried to assist the occupants. Garner noticed a fire developing under the sedan containing two unresponsive occupants. Within seconds, the vehicle became engulfed in flames, preventing Garner from getting to the occupants.
The occupants of the sedan - the driver, George Sanchez Gonzalez, 16, and his mother, Sharon Gonzalez, 42 — were killed.
Mayer, who was driving the pick-up truck exited his vehicle and was walking around it.
The front-seat passenger, Mayer’s mother, Virginia Mayer, had life-threatening injuries.
Mayer and his mother were taken to Lehigh Valley Hospital, Salisbury Township. Mayer was admitted for non-life-threatening injuries.
Virginia Mayer died in July, and an autopsy determined that she died from complications resulting from massive blunt force trauma that was a direct result of the crash.
Several witnesses who were interviewed told police that the pick-up truck was traveling at a high speed and entered the intersection even though there was a steady red signal in his lane of travel.
At the time of the crash, the section of highway was under construction, and there were signs warning motorists that they were in a construction zone. The maximum speed had been reduced to 30 mph.
Whitehall Township police and Pennsylvania State Police troopers/crash reconstructionists analyzed the roadway evidence, recorded data and verified measurements from the crash.
Mark Nederostek, a Whitehall Township police officer and certified crash reconstructionist, determined that the pick-up truck was traveling at a minimum speed of 86 mph at the time of the crash.
As in every criminal case, the fact that an arrest has occurred or a complaint has been filed is merely an accusation; and the defendant, John Edward Mayer, is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.