OVERTON TOWNSHIP – Pennsylvania State Police in Laporte have arrested William Joseph Weidman, 38, of New Albany, in relation to a fatal crash that killed 30-year-old Zachery Jon Jerkes of Dushore two months ago.
According to the criminal complaint, Weidman is being charged with third-degree murder, homicide by vehicle while DUI, aggravated assault by vehicle while DUI, homicide and aggravated assault by vehicle, accidents involving death or injury while not licensed, DUI: general impairment –first offense, high rate of alcohol BAC .10
At approximately 8:45 p.m. on Sept. 28, a Laporte trooper who was stationed at the Towanda barracks that night was dispatched to the area of Morris Road and Branch Road in Overton Township in response to a single-car crash into a tree.
Before arriving on scene, the trooper was made aware that one of the occupants was dead and another occupant was trapped inside the dark blue GMC Sierra.
As the trooper drove down the steep hill off Morris Road, he saw fire and EMS personnel attempting to save Weidman, the defendant, and get him out of the heavily-damaged truck. One of the first things he noted in the criminal complaint was a strong smell of alcohol coming from inside the vehicle.
He later took notice of a 30-pack of Busch Beer that was removed from the GMC truck prior to his arrival.
The trooper soon learned from one of the fire personnel that Weidman had been pinned to the driver’s seat with the deceased lying across his body before help arrived.
An autopsy confirmed the following day that Jerkes’ cause of death was blunt force trauma to the head.
The defendant was ultimately retrieved from the truck at approximately 11:08 p.m. and was flown to Guthrie Robert Packer Hospital as a trauma patient.
The third occupant of the car at the time of the crash was later identified as Jeffrey Scott Campbell. Fire personnel told police that Campbell had freed himself from the truck by pulling himself out of the rear window and then left the scene to call for help.
Campbell was transported by EMS to Guthrie Robert Packer Memorial Hospital upon his return to the scene.
According to police, Jerkes’ brother, Christopher Sallsgiver, pulled up to the scene with girlfriend Mindy June Bosket at about 10:35 p.m. Bosket told police that Jerkes, Campbell, and Weidman had arrived at their home between 7:30 and 8 p.m. The three were already very intoxicated and stumbled up the stairs.
The men were all drinking beers when they came in and collectively drank about 15 more in the hour they were there, according to police. She tried to stop them from leaving, but they refused to listen.
She witnessed Jerkes climb into the driver’s seat of his car after he had told her he wasn’t going to drive, police reported. She said that Jerkes had been so intoxicated that he couldn’t figure out how to back the truck out of her driveway, and that she believed this caused him to switch with “Billy.”
Although she didn’t physically see Jerkes and Weidman switch seats, she told police that was the conclusion she came to because the truck had all of a sudden driven away. Bosket added that she “had a feeling” that Jerkes had been involved in an accident once she heard a rescue helicopter fly over her house.
Later on during an interview at the hospital, Campbell confirmed to the trooper that Weidman had been driving at the time of the crash.
The trooper got a search warrant for the results of Weidman’s blood draw on Sept. 29. He reported that the test showed Weidman had a BAC of .13% on the night of the crash.
Police said that Weidman was interviewed at his home at about 10:50 a.m. on Oct. 8.
According to the criminal complaint, Weidman said that he didn’t remember the crash in great detail. He remembered that on that night he went to the Sallsgiver’s home with Jerkes and Campbell after they got out of work. He told the trooper that he believed he drank four or five beers at the house.
He remembered that when they left, he was sitting in the front middle of the truck and that Jerkes was driving and Campbell was sitting on the right front side.
Weidman specifically said that he didn’t drive that night because he hadn’t been driving at the time since his license was suspended after he was arrested for a previous DUI.
Answering the above charges, Weidman was confined to the Bradford County Prison without bail on Wednesday.
A preliminary hearing is scheduled for 9 a.m. on Nov. 25.