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Philadelphia man pleads guilty in fatal crash

Published August 14. 2018 02:07PM

A Philadelphia man entered a guilty plea in Carbon County court on Monday to one count of involuntary manslaughter stemming from a fatal crash along the Northeast Extension of the turnpike.

James Jamil Walker, 22, entered the plea before Judge Steven R. Serfass for an incident on April 16, 2016, in Penn Forest Township.

In exchange for the plea, the district attorney’s office dropped charges of homicide by vehicle, possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance, three counts of recklessly endangering another person, possession of a controlled substance, possession of marijuana and five summary motor vehicle code violations.

According to the affidavit of probable cause filed by trooper Barry Wooten of the Pocono barracks, he investigated a crash at mile marker AB2.3 northbound. A 2010 Ford Crown Victoria and five occupants were involved in the crash.

The crash occurred as Walker lost control of the vehicle while in the left lane passing other vehicles. After losing control, the vehicle crossed the right lane and left the roadway off the northbound berm. The vehicle traveled up an embankment and back onto the roadway, during which a back-seat passenger was ejected onto the road.

The passenger, Derek C. Mitchell, died on scene as a result of the injuries. Mitchell was pronounced dead on scene by Carbon County Deputy Coroner Gerald Jones.

Two other passengers were flown to medical centers due to injuries suffered from the crash. Dajon Worrells was flown to St. Luke’s University Hospital Bethlehem Campus, and Robert Wilkerson was flown to Lehigh Valley Hospital, Cedar Crest.

While on-scene, Wooten interviewed Walker, who said that as he was passing a bus, the steering wheel began to shake and he then lost control of the vehicle. Walker was in possession of a backpack that Wooten noticed smelled of raw marijuana. Walker claimed that there was marijuana in the pack and he had intended to sell it at a block party in Bloomsburg, which was his destination that night.

Wooten took possession of a total of 34.01 grams of suspected marijuana packaged in baggies, vials and small plastic jars for individual sale.

First Assistant District Attorney Michael S. Greek said Walker was driving at an excessively high rate of speed at the time of the crash.

Serfass deferred sentencing as Walker wants to apply for placement in the county’s Intermediate Punishment Program — house arrest.

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