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Trial date set in Rhoades case

Published January 12. 2010 05:00PM

The court trial for the man accused of causing the fatal accident that killed state Sen. James J. Rhoades of Mahanoy City is scheduled to begin with jury selection March 9 in Monroe County.

Thomas P. Senavitis, 46, of 7735 Pohopoco Dr., Kunkletown, is being held in Monroe County Prison. He faces numerous charges, including homicide by vehicle while driving under the influence of alcohol, and is being blamed for the accident that killed Rhoades on Oct. 17, 2008.

A total of 14 charges are presently lodged against Senavitis. Others beside driving while under the influence include aggravated assault by vehicle, DUI, recklessly endangering another person, and four summary offenses.

It is alleged that when the head-on collision occurred, Senavitis had a blood alcohol count of .355 percent.

The accident occurred at about 6:35 p.m. on Route 209 in Chestnuthill Township, Monroe County, while Rhoades was en route to Pleasant Valley High School where he was to receive an award.

The Cadillac driven by Rhoades and the pick-up truck operated by Senavitis collided head-on. Rhoades was transported to Lehigh Valley Hospital, Salisbury Township, and pronounced dead the following morning at 9:35 a.m. His wife, Mary Rhoades, was a passenger and suffered serious bodily injuries including "multiple broken bones," police said.

Senavitis was also injured in the accident. Police said he was critically injured and was "in and out of consciousness and needed an immediate transport to the hospital."

He was interviewed by police in his home on Oct. 27.

Corporal Douglas Shook of the Pa. State Police reconstruction unit alleges that Senavitis crossed into the lane of travel of Rhoades.

Senavitis was formally charged on Wednesday, Jan. 14, 2009.

A third vehicle was involved in the accident. It was a van operated by Yamila Yafar and was parked on the shoulder of the road. Neither Yafar nor a passenger, a baby, were injured.

The initial police report on Oct. 17 stated Yafar, of East Stroudsburg, was parked on the side of the road. Sen. Rhoades and his wife had been traveling behind the minivan.

It stated that as a result of the collision between Rhoades and Senavitis, the Rhoades vehicle was pushed into the van. The minivan had minor damage, the report said.

After Senavitis was arrested, he was initially release on $25,000 unsecured bail on condition that he would not consume any alcoholic beverages or drive anywhere.

He allegedly showed up at a May district court preliminary hearing in Carbon County, which was for an incident involving his wife, and it is alleged there was a smell of alcohol on his breath. His unsecured bail status was revoked and he was placed in Monroe County Correctional Facility.

He sought bail reinstatement in July but Monroe County President Judge Ronald Vican denied the request.

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