DOYLESTOWN >> A Bristol Borough woman will serve up to a decade in state prison for killing a Penndel man in a head-on DUI crash.
Karen Baxter, 59, pleaded guilty on July 16 to homicide by vehicle while DUI and related counts stemming from the July 23, 2018, crash on Durham Road in Middletown Township.
Bucks County Judge Raymond F. McHugh accepted the negotiated plea, and sentenced Baxter to serve five to 10 years behind bars.
Investigators found Baxter’s Toyota Camry was traveling southbound in excess of 70 mph when it crossed the double yellow line into the northbound lane of Durham and struck Francis Fischer’s Kia Rio. The posted speed limit was 35 mph.
Fischer, 64, succumbed to his injuries weeks later while hospitalized at St. Mary Medical Center.
“Karen Baxter’s reckless conduct serves as another reminder of the dangers of drinking and driving. We believe her actions required the maximum sentence of 5-10 years on Homicide by Vehicle While DUI,” said Assistant District Attorney Jovin Jose. “However, no amount of incarceration will give solace to the Fischer family as they mourn the loss of Mr. Fischer.”
According to a criminal complaint filed in the case, Baxter had been drinking at the Irish Rover Bar immediately prior to the crash. Staff realized Fischer had become highly intoxicated and refused to continue serving alcohol to her.
Employees attempted to stop Baxter from driving away from the bar, the complaint says, but she entered her vehicle anyway and nearly struck a bar employee as she drove out of the parking lot.
The crash occurred as employees called 911 to report the incident.
Both vehicles sustained severe damage and Baxter also was hospitalized. She was found to have blood-alcohol content of .23 percent through a blood draw performed shortly after the crash.
In addition to jail time, Baxter must also make restitution of $8,706.78 and pay a $1,500 fine.
The case was investigated by the Middletown Township Police Department with the assistance of the Bensalem Township Police Department and the Bucks County Crash Investigation Task Force and was prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Jovin Jose.