Man charged in vehicular homicide

BRETT BENNETT

BY STACI WILSON

New details emerged Monday involving the death of two pedestrians who were killed after being hit by a pickup truck driven by a drunken driver early Saturday inSusquehannaCounty, state police said.

Troopers charged 40-year-old Brett Bennett of Kingsley, with two felony counts of homicide by vehicle while driving under the influence, two felony counts of homicide by vehicle, and a misdemeanor count of DUI, among other traffic offenses.

The pedestrians, Edward TurnerIIIand Brian Thomas, both ofNew Milford, were pronounced dead at the crash scene, which happened on Route 11 inNew Milfordat about2:21 a.m.

Bennett told police he was headed south on Route 11 from Maloney’s Bar in Hallstead, where he had been drinking, according to arrest papers.

He said he saw someone in the road and attempted to swerve to the right but ended up striking the two men with his truck, arrest papers said.

A Monday autopsy on Turner and Thomas indicated they died from multiple traumatic injuries due to blunt force trauma after getting hit by a vehicle, Susquehanna County Coroner Anthony Conarton said Monday night.

Conarton said both men were hit from behind by a vehicle.

In an interview with The Times-Tribune on Monday, Lori Thomas said she saw Brian Thomas, her cousin, and Mr. Turner, her friend, walking together in the community about 12 hours before they were killed.

“I can still picture” it, Lori Thomas, 34 of Hallstead, said. “It’s such a shock to everyone inNew Milford.”

She said Turner always walked aroundNew Milford, and rarely, if ever, was he seen driving.

“For as long as I know him, I’ve never seen him behind a wheel,” she said. “Everyone in the area has given him multiple rides.”

Bennett also told police he had been traveling faster than he should have been in the 35 mph zone.

When state police arrived at the crash scene early Saturday morning, Trooper Robert Bauman Sr. found the bodies of the two men in the road.

Bennett exhibited signs of intoxication, arrest paper said.

His red, Chevrolet pickup truck had heavy front-end damage, arrest papers said.

Police also interviewed Jeff and Mary Holgate who arrived on the scene shortly after the impact. The couple contactedEMSand protected the bodies from other traffic until police arrived.

The couple also told police, according to the affidavit, that Bennett told them he couldn’t stop the truck quick enough and that his “life was over.”

Bennett’s preliminary hearing on Monday was continued and rescheduled for March 19 inNew MilfordDistrict Court..

STEVE MCCONNELL, staff writer, contributed to this report.