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New York state man spared jail time in fatal crash

A New York state man was spared a prison term on Friday when he was placed in Carbon County’s Intermediate Punishment Program on a charge of involuntary manslaughter stemming from a fatal crash last year on Interstate 80 in Kidder Township.

Judge Joseph J. Matikaplaced Jose M. Padilla, 35, of Brooklyn, New York, in the house arrest program for five years, which includes six months of wearing an electronic monitoring device.

Padilla was charged following a rollover crash in the eastbound lanes of I-80 in Kidder Township on June 18, 2017. State police at Fern Ridge responded to the scene of the crash and found that a rear-seat passenger had been ejected from the vehicle. The passenger, Ralph Remig, 40, also of Brooklyn, was pronounced dead at the scene.

A state police accident reconstruction team was called to the scene and determined that Padilla was traveling 81-82 mph in the 65 mph zone. His vehicle went onto the berm and into the center median, rolling over several times.

Padilla, who was not properly licensed at the time, was originally charged with 14 criminal counts, including homicide by vehicle and aggravated assault by vehicle, both felonies. The manslaughter count is a misdemeanor. The other charges were dropped in a plea bargain with the district attorney’s office.

Padilla told Matika the incident was a “life-changing experience” for him. He said he fell asleep at the wheel, which led to him losing control of the vehicle.

The victim’s wife was present and had a letter written by her to the court read for the record. She wrote of how her life had changed, that she and her husband were only married a short time before his death and that they had planned to have a family, but said now, “I’m alone.”

Matika said such cases are difficult because two families are pulled apart. He said, however, the court can’t base its sentence solely on “heart strings” feeling toward the victim but on the law as well.

He said he would go along with the plea agreement and allow Padilla to be placed in the IPP.

Padilla must also render 100 hours of community service, get a mental health evaluation and follow any recommendation for treatment, pay court costs of about $1,000, pay a $50 per month supervision fee while in the program, pay restitution of $252.94 and attend grief counseling sessions.