Off-Duty Trooper Faces Charges in Deadly Pa. Turnpike Crash

Trooper's blood alcohol level was allegedly twice the legal limit as he drove home from a golf outing in memory of a victim of a drunk driver

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Pennsylvania State Trooper Barry Searfoss Jr. turned himself into police on Monday. Searfoss is facing charges from a deadly crash that happened on May 18 on the Pennsylvania Turnpike. According to court papers the off-duty cop was allegedly driving drunk on his way home from a fundraiser for a woman who was killed by a drunk driver. NBC10's Deanna Durante reports.

    A Pennsylvania State Trooper is facing homicide by vehicle charges in a deadly crash on the Pennsylvania Turnpike last month that killed a 21-year-old woman and according to court papers the cop was allegedly driving drunk following a fundraiser for a woman killed by a drunk driver 15 years ago.

    State Trooper Barry Searfoss Jr., of Coatesville, was off-duty when he was driving his pickup truck in the westbound lanes of the Turnpike in Upper Dublin Township on May 18 around 10 p.m. when he allegedly rear-ended a 1997 Lincoln Town Car that was slowing down, investigators said.

    He was on his way home from a golf outing in memory of Phebe Blessington, who was killed by a drunk driver in 1997, Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman said.

    Robin Williams of North Philadelphia was driving around 11 to 16 mph -- her car possibly breaking down -- when Searfoss -- who was going 71 to 76 mph -- struck her from behind, according to court papers obtained by NBC10.

    "Because of his level of intoxication Searfoss was not able to maneuver his own vehicle to avoid her and he ran into the back of the car," Ferman told reporters.

    The force of impact caused Williams' Town Car to burst into flames, killing the 21-year-old. An autopsy report revealed Williams died from multiple blunt force injuries, thermal burns and smoke inhalation, according to PhillyBurbs.com.

    "Trooper Searfoss, while off-duty, failed to abide by those standards when he chose to get behind the wheel of his personal vehicle and drive while under the influence of alcohol," said Trooper Huascar Rivera.

    After the wreck, Ferman confirmed that her office would investigate Searfoss for suspected DUI. The 11-year veteran of the force allegedly failed a sobriety test after the crash with a blood-alcohol level of .188 -- more than two times the legal limit of .08.

    Ferman announced Monday morning that Searfoss, 40, was to be arraigned Monday on homicide by vehicle charges. He was arraigned at 12:45 p.m. and released after posting 10 percent of $50,000 bail. He also had to surrender his passport and driver's license.

    He had nothing to say to reporters outside his arraignment but his lawyer did make a statement.

    "This is a tragedy of epic proportions primarily for the family that lost their daughter and their child," attorney Chris Hoy said. "It's certainly not lost on Mr. Searfoss or us."

    Besides homicide by vehicle and homicide by vehicle while under the influence, Searfoss also faces DUI, careless driving and reckless driving charges, according to court documents.

    Searfoss has been on desk duty while the case was being investigated, police said.


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