Driver admits excessive speed cause of two deaths
BY STACI WILSON
Two men walking on Route 11 in New Milford Borough died last year after they were struck by a pickup truck driven by a Kingsley man.
Brett Bennett, 41, pleaded guilty Friday in Susquehanna County Court to two misdemeanor counts of involuntary manslaughter.
He could face up to 10 years in prison on the counts.
District Attorney Jason Legg told the court that Bennett was driving about 80 mph on Feb. 25, 2012, when he struck and killed Brian Thomas and Edward Turner III.
Thomas and Turner were both pronounced dead at the crash scene.
Bennett agreed to reimburse the victim’s compensation fund for the men’s funeral expenses.
Legg said Bennett’s action of driving 80 mph in a 35 mph speed zone was both reckless and negligent.
“Two pedestrians were both killed as a result of driving at a high rate of speed,” Legg said.
Bennett was originally charged 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.
Those charges, except for two DUI counts, were withdrawn by the district attorney.
Legg explained to the court that the original plea deal offered to Bennett included the DUI charges.
Bennett has elected to go to trial on the DUI charges. The two counts were separated from the case before the court on Friday.
A bench trial, to be heard by President Judge Kenneth Seamans, for the DUI counts will be held on March 7.
According to court documents, Bennett’s blood alcohol content after the crash was .148 percent. The legal limit is .08 percent.
On the scene, Bennett told state troopers that he had been driving faster than he should have been. He told police he tried to swerve to avoid the men but the men also moved and he hit them, according to court documents.
The crash occurred at about 2:21 a.m. as Bennett was traveling south on Rt. 11.
According to court reports, he told police he had been drinking at a bar in Hallstead, about seven miles north of the accident scene.