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Walnutport woman charged in 2017 fatal crash

Published September 12. 2018 05:22AM

A Walnutport woman who said she fell asleep just before a fatal crash last year in Lehigh Township has been charged with homicide by vehicle.

Susan Queen, 70, of the 200 block of First Avenue, also faces charges of aggravated assault by vehicle, involuntary manslaughter, recklessly endangering another person, disregard traffic lane, careless driving and reckless driving.

According to the affidavit of probable cause filed by officer Jonathan Roth of the Lehigh Township Police Department:

At 12:28 p.m. June 14, 2017, Queen was traveling northbound on Riverview Drive, just north of Blue Mountain Drive when her 2012 Chevrolet Equinox crossed over the center yellow line into the southbound traffic lane, striking a 2015 Kia Optima, operated by Alana Hein of Walnutport, killing her.

This particular area of Riverview Drive contains alert strips in the center of the roadway, which provides an audible and physical alert when crossing over the double yellow lines.

A witness told police she was traveling northbound behind Queen’s vehicle and observed Queen swerve into the oncoming lane.

Another witness said he was southbound behind Hein’s vehicle and saw Queen’s vehicle drive across the double yellow line, crashing into Hein’s vehicle.

An officer interviewed Queen, who said she knew she felt tired and acknowledged she should have pulled over, however, she said she started to sing to stay alert.

Queen said she worked at Giant from 6 a.m. to noon and did a little shopping before heading home.

Queen also told the EMS crew who transported her to the hospital, that she was tired and began to sing to the music to stay awake and then fell asleep, waking up to being thrown around in the vehicle.

Queen also admitted this to the trauma resident while at St. Luke’s Hospital.

Trooper Brianne Glad, of the Pennsylvania State Police CARS unit, and Roth served a search warrant on the vehicle driven by Queen and the data from the air bag control unit was imaged.

Glad provided an analysis of the air bag control module which indicated there was steady use of the accelerator pedal with no fluctuation.

There was a minor speed increase from 43 to 49 miles per hour.

Glad said no brakes were used 5 seconds before the crash.

Based upon the review of the physical evidence on scene, the crash was determined to have occurred in the southbound lane of Riverview Drive.

Police said there were several areas where Queen could have stopped if she was tired.

Queen is free on $50,000 unsecured bail.

Queen is scheduled to have a preliminary hearing at 9 a.m. Sept. 19 before District Judge Robert Hawke.

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