BRISTOL TOWNSHIP >> A Bristol Township man faces two counts of third-degree murder for a high-speed drunk driving crash in December that killed a man and woman and seriously injured two others on I-95.
Kevin R. Peters, 37, of the 400 block of Stanford Road, was arraigned Monday, June 1 on a long list of charges, which also includes counts of aggravated assault and homicide by vehicle while DUI. Following his arraignment, Peters posted bail set by District Judge Kevin P. Wagner at 10 percent of $500,000.
Though somewhat unusual in fatal crashes, murder charges have been brought in this case as the District Attorney's Office alleges the deceased victims died as a result of Peters' extreme and prolonged disregard and indifference for the safety of those he shared the road with the morning of Dec. 6.
The fiery crash he caused claimed the lives of 20-year-old Juan Tavarez-Santelises and 35-year-old Claribel Dominguez, both of Philadelphia, who were in the back seat of a Toyota Sienna minivan and unable to get out after it was struck by Peters’ speeding Mazda CX-5 SUV. The driver and front passenger, the deceased male victim’s father and brother respectively, each suffered severe burns and other injuries but managed to escape with their lives.
Data from the Mazda’s onboard computer showed Peters was traveling at speeds between 106 and 115 mph in the seconds just prior to the crash. The data also showed Peters did not brake prior to impact.
The minivan’s occupants were traveling in the southbound lane of Interstate 95 in Bristol Township on their way home from work when the crash occurred at about 1 a.m. Concerned about a potential mechanical issue, the minivan’s driver had turned on the vehicle’s hazard lights, which were active at the time of the crash.
Peters’ vehicle struck the minivan from behind, causing it to veer off the roadway into the shoulder where it collided with the concrete barrier. Soon after, the minivan was fully engulfed in flames.
The SUV driven by Peters sustained heavy front-end damage and came to a stop a short distance from the minivan. Peters and the surviving minivan occupants all received medical treatment for serious injuries.
Through investigation, Pennsylvania State Police determined Peters left center city Philadelphia approximately one hour before the crash. There he had been drinking at a work function that began at 5 p.m. and later headed to a bar. A blood draw performed two hours after the crash indicated Peters had a blood-alcohol concentration between .151 and .169 percent while driving.
About 15 minutes before the crash, Peters’ erratic driving prompted two 911 calls within moments. Both callers described a white Mazda SUV traveling at a high rate of speed while quickly changing lanes and stated they believed the driver to be intoxicated. One caller said the SUV had nearly side-swiped the vehicle in which the caller himself was traveling.
The case was investigated by Pennsylvania State Police and is assigned for prosecution to Deputy District Attorney David A. Keightly.