The driver of an that claimed the lives of two 2010 Hatboro-Horsham graduates faces a minimum six years behind bars.
Connor James McNicholas, 19, of Bryant Court in Ambler, has been arrested and charged with two counts of homicide by vehicle while driving under the influence of alcohol. The 1:19 a.m. crash on Aug. 6 claimed the lives of and , both 19, of Horsham.
Authorities said McNicholas' blood alcohol level measured .117 at the time of the crash. An analysis at Abington Memorial Hospital, where McNicholas and two other passengers were transported for minor injuries, shows a range between .109 and .134, according to court documents.
Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman said during a press conference Wednesday that McNicholas' blood alcohol level was more than five times the legal limit of .02 for a 19-year-old.
Vetri Ferman said a crash reconstruction determined that McNicholas was driving his 2007 Honda Civic between 97 and 103 miles per hour on the 25-mile-per-hour section of Witmer Road in Horsham when he lost control of the vehicle, struck a curb and drove 405 feet onto a homeowner’s Wade Avenue property.
McNicholas has pleaded not guilty to the charges.
District Judge Paul Leo, who arraigned McNicholas Wednesday afternoon, set bail at $500,000, representing $250,000 for each victim. McNicholas’ attorney, Peter Scuderi, said several hours after the arraignment that McNicholas' family was trying to post bail.
Scuderi had argued that the bail amount was too high because his client’s BAC was “not incredibly high.” Scuderi added that McNicholas’ parents, who were in court Wednesday, “are good people.”
Scuderi said McNicholas, a Temple University student and caddy at , has been seeing a psychiatrist and is said to be a “suicide risk.”
“He had a lethal weapon,” Leo responded. “He took two lives.”
McNicholas, clad in a black blazer, khaki pants and loafers, hung his head as he was led from the Horsham police car into the Hatboro court building. McNicholas, as well as his parents, declined comment.
In court, McNicholas answered the judge’s questions so softly that his attorney had to relay his responses.
If convicted, Vetri Ferman said McNicholas faces a “three-year mandatory minimum” for each of the two homicide by vehicle charges. He has also been charged with reckless driving, careless driving, two counts of speeding, as well as a half dozen other charges, according to court documents.
Scuderi said McNicholas is a “top student” at Temple and a “top player” on the golf team. The crash and the events leading up to it were out of character for him, Scuderi said.
“He’s a good kid,” Scuderi said.
Vetri Ferman said that aside from McNicholas, none of the passengers in the vehicle were wearing seatbelts. Nagel, who was riding in the front seat, and Coombs, a passenger in the rear middle of the car, died from head injuries sustained in the crash, according to their autopsies.
The two other passengers who survived the crash, Timothy Kurpiel, 19, of Horsham, and Darryl Neville Jr., of Darby, do not face charges, Vetri Ferman said, adding that she did not have their blood alchol levels.
She did say, however, that all of the teens were believed to have been drinking. Several alcoholic beverage containers were found in the car, Vetri Ferman said.
“This is not a case where the adults provided,” Vetri Ferman said of the home where the teens were said to have been drinking. “Parents at that residence were home sleeping.”
Horsham Police Chief Robert Ruxton said the home is less than two miles away from the site of the crash, which happened near Norristown Road.
Vetri Ferman said adults have not been identified as being responsible for providing the alcohol.
“They snuck it from places,” Vetri Ferman said of McNicholas and his four passengers. “Adults around them didn’t know.”
Vetri Ferman said that because Coombs had been a summer intern at the district attorney’s office, her office has turned the case over to Pennsylvania Attorney General Linda Kelly. Deputy Attorney General Marc Costanzo would be prosecuting the case, she said.