A close friend of longtime Dover Township firefighter and Memorial Hospital paramedic Michael Eshbach is charged with vehicular homicide for the ATV accident that killed Eshbach last summer.
Seth Hunter Gross, 25, of 5280 Pinchtown Road, is free on unsecured bail, charged with homicide by vehicle, driving under the influence of alcohol and careless driving. His formal court arraignment on the charges was Friday, according to court records.
Gross and Eshbach were "very good friends," according to Chris Ferro, Gross' defense attorney.
"This was an incredibly tragic accident, and it's my belief that the criminal charges, as filed, are unwarranted," Ferro said. "I'm still hopeful that additional discussion and negotiation with the district attorney's office will result in a just disposition for this tragedy."
What happened: "Mikey" Eshbach, 24, of Manchester Township, died after falling off the back on an all-terrain vehicle driven by Gross, according to charging documents filed by Northern York County Regional Police.
He died of head trauma, York County Deputy Coroner Steve Cosey has said.
Emergency crews — who were Eshbach's friends and colleagues — were called to the 5200 block of Pinchtown Road shortly after midnight on June 1, 2013, where they found Eshbach unconscious.
They didn't realize they were rushing to help one of their own until they arrived, Dover Township Fire Chief Glenn Jansen Sr. said, and they did all they could to save him. They then stayed with him at the hospital until Eshbach died, Jansen said.
Sobriety tests: Northern Regional Police also responded to the scene and noticed that Gross smelled of alcohol and was slurring his speech, charging documents state.
He failed field-sobriety tests and was arrested at the scene, police said.
A test later determined Gross' blood-alcohol level was 0.147 percent. In Pennsylvania, an adult is driving drunk at 0.08 percent.
Gross told investigators he was driving the ATV north on Pinchtown Road when Eshbach fell off, documents state. Gross was heading from a neighbor's house back to his own home, police said.
'Hold on': Another friend, Matthew Givler, was a passenger on the ATV. He told police they were going between 10 mph and 15 mph as they left the neighbor's driveway, at which point Gross said, "Hold on," documents state.
Givler said Gross accelerated to between 20 mph and 25 mph for a short time, then slammed on the brakes, documents state.
Givler said he tumbled off the front of the ATV, got up and was walking around when he heard Gross say, "Mike fell off," according to documents.
Gross, Givler and others ran to Eshbach, who was lying facedown on the road, police said.
Gross called 911 to summon help, according to police.
Charging documents allege Gross acted "recklessly or with gross negligence" when he caused the fatal accident.
Volunteered: Eshbach got his start as a volunteer firefighter with Dover Township at age 15 and became a paramedic about three years before his death, Jansen has said.
He graduated in 2010 from the Pennsylvania College of Technology with an associate's degree in applied science from the paramedic technician program.
In addition to working as a paramedic for Memorial Hospital, he also worked part time for York Hospital, according to his obituary.
Eshbach's father is Dover-area District Judge David Eshbach.
— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at email@example.com.