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Jury acquits Kinsley driver of 2 counts of vehicular homicide
Jurors on Thursday acquitted a Kinsley Construction worker who killed two co-workers when he crashed a work van on Route 30 in Hellam Township in 2014.
It took the jury about 2½ hours to find Luis Antonio Behrensen, 30, of Windsor Township, not guilty of two counts of homicide by vehicle and one count each of aggravated assault by vehicle and reckless endangerment, according to senior deputy prosecutor Jared Mellott.
Mellott had argued Behrensen's actions rose to the level of vehicular homicide because he was speeding excessively and generally being inattentive behind the wheel. He expressed disappointment with the jury's verdict.
Defense attorney Joshua Neiderhiser argued Behrensen had a sudden blackout at the wheel.
"Yes, the defense was that, while it was a tragedy, it was just an accident," Neiderhiser wrote in a text. "Mr. Behrensen has maintained the entire time, from when he was interviewed by police through this testimony, he said he didn't know what happened.
"He remembered crossing the river bridge and then nothing until he was laying in the grass being told to stay down."
The thought that this could happen to anyone likely pushed the verdict in Behrensen's favor, Mellott said.
"That likely resonated with members of the jury," the prosecutor said.
The crash: Hellam Township Police have said the crash happened on Route 30 westbound near the Hallam exit about 2:15 p.m. July 22, 2014.
Killed were Jack Mason III, 52, and Jerry Eady, 36, both of West Manchester Township. They were thrown from the white Ford work van during the crash and were pronounced dead at the scene.
Behrensen and a third passenger, co-worker Manuel Orellana of Hanover, were injured, while the driver of a pickup truck clipped by the Kinsley van just before the crash escaped injury, police said. Orellana suffered a broken leg, concussion and shoulder injury, according to court documents.
A crash reconstruction performed by state police determined Behrensen — who had been a Kinsley employee for three years — was driving 83 mph in a 55 mph zone in the left lane when the van veered into the right lane and clipped the pickup truck, documents state.
No reaction: Police said they found no evidence to show he reacted or took evasive action before the crash.
The force of the impact caused the Kinsley van to slide off the highway and roll several times, ending up in a tree line north of the highway, police have said.
Mason and Eady suffered multiple injuries, police said.
After the crash, neither Behrensen nor Orellana could remember what happened to cause it, documents state.
The Kinsley work crew was returning to York from a Lancaster County work site in Gap, according to documents.
— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at email@example.com.