Man pleads guilty for crash that injured daughter
Ronald J. Pooler Jr. had plans that day to take his children to get class supplies in anticipation of the new school year, pick up his estranged wife from work, and taker them all to a park where the four kids could play and he and she could talk things out. They never made it. Instead, Pooler flipped his car on the Route 30 Bypass after speeding in and out of traffic. It landed on its roof after crashing into an embankment along the heavily travelled roadway.
More importantly, and more tragically, the car landed on top of his 8-year-old daughter, who had been riding, unbuckled, in the rear seat with her siblings. The girl was ejected and wound up underneath the front windshield. Passing motorists who saw the crash were able to lift the car up and drag her from underneath the wreck, according to court documents.
On Thursday, Pooler, a 44-yearold Uwchlan man with a string of minor criminal convictions involving drugs and violence dating back to the 1990s, entered a series of guilty pleas stemming from the August 2015 crash. Initially, he had been charged with driving under the influence of controlled substances — specifically fentanyl, a synthetic form of heroin — but those charges were withdrawn by the prosecution.
He pleaded guilty to charges of aggravated assault by vehicle, accidents involving injuries while unlicensed, and endangering the welfare of children. His daughter survived the crash, but was seriously injured. Her three siblings escaped relatively unscathed.
According to Assistant District Attorney Jonathan Harrar, who prosecuted the case, the now 9-year-old girl suffered traumatic brain injury in the crash, and was facially disfigured. She continues to need surgical treatment, he told Common Pleas Judge David
Bortner, who accepted Pooler’s plea.
“She is precluded from ever leading a normal, healthy life,” said Harrar. The girl, whose name not being reported by the Daily Local News, was not in the courtroom for the proceeding.
Pooler, who was accompanied by his attorney, Assistant Public Defender David Miller, did not address
the charges against him specifically. He answered Bortner’s questions about his decision to plead guilty, and will be sentenced at a later date when a pre-sentence investigation into his background is completed. That will likely be within 60 days.
According to the description of the crash given by Harrar, and a detailed criminal complaint filed by state police Trooper Kory Wardrop, who investigated the scene, Pooler was driving westbound on Route 30 in Caln about 5:10 p.m. on Aug.
16, 2015, when he lost control of his 2002 Acura RSX.
Motorists later told troopers that they had seen the Acura driving fast and passing them on the left-hand side. They said the car went out of control, began spinning, and struck a Cadillac in the rear before veering into the right-hand side embankment. Harrar said the accident investigation showed Pooler was traveling about 72 to 77 miles per hour in the 55-mph zone.
When Wardrop and another trooper spoke to Pooler at the scene after his
daughter had been taken to the hospital in an ambulance, he told them that he had been on his way to pick up his wife at her work. He said that the children — ages 10, 8, 7, and 6 — were all in the back seat, but that none of them were in car seats.
Pooler claimed that he had lost control of the car when another motorist cut in front of him and he had to swerve to get out of its way. No other motorist who witnessed the crash, however, reported seeing a car cut the Acura off.
During the interview at the scene, Pooler complained of having a dry mouth. Asked if he had smoked marijuana, he said he had done so a few days before, but that he had not taken any harder drugs. He said the last time he drank had been the night before, when he shared a hard cider with his father.
When Pooler was asked to perform field sobriety tests, he showed signs of impairment, Wardrop said in his complaint. At Brandywine Hospital, where he was taken following the
crash, Pooler admitted that he had used heroin recently, after detoxing in prison. The blood tests ultimately showed that he had fentanyl in his system.
A recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling declared the results of those blood tests performed on motorists like Pooler as inadmissible.
Pooler is being held in Chester County Prison while he awaits sentencing.