Man pleads guilty for crash that in­jured daugh­ter

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - FRONT PAGE - By Michael P. Rel­la­han mrel­la­han@21st-cen­tu­ry­ @Ch­escoCourtNews on Twit­ter

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.

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