Driver tried to 'catch air' before crash that killed friend, police say

Aimee Ambrose
York Dispatch

A Wrightsville man allegedly tried to “catch air” as the car he was driving crested a hill at about 50 miles over the speed limit and then crashed, police said, resulting in his friend’s death last year.

Isaac Shoff, 20, is charged with a felony count of homicide by vehicle along with counts of reckless endangerment, careless driving, speeding and reckless driving in a case that advanced into the York County Court of Common Pleas on Tuesday, court documents show. He was initially charged in May.

Investigators allege Shoff lost control of his Chevrolet Cobalt while speeding over a hill on Yorkana Road around 2:50 a.m. on April 27, 2021. The car spun, struck an embankment, crashed into a utility pole and then rolled a couple of times into a field. A teen in the back seat, 18-year-old Hannah Tome, of Hellam Township, went through a rear window in the process, Hellam Township police said in a criminal complaint.

Tome died from multiple injuries about an hour later, police said. Shoff and another passenger, who was a minor at the time, survived the crash.

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When police reached the scene near Valley Acres Road, they spoke to Shoff as he stood along the side of the road. He initially said he swerved to avoid a deer while driving at about 50 mph, struck something else and went into the field. But by the extent of the damage to the car, an officer asked for a more “realistic speed,” and Shoff revised the figure to about 65 mph, the complaint shows.

Police interviewed the car’s other passenger a couple of weeks later, and an officer asked if Shoff was “trying to catch air” before the crash. The passenger replied, “Yeah,” and estimated he was driving closer to 80 or 85 mph at the time. And when asked about Shoff’s driving during the day before the crash, the teen said, “he always drives with the speed,” the complaint quoted him as saying.

The teen told police he sat next to Tome in the back seat with his seat belt on when the car went airborne and then crashed. After he got out, he said he saw Shoff hanging halfway out his window and Tome was crawling away from the car. He said he tried to get her to stop moving, stating, “I know you’re hurting and everything, but you got to stay there,” the complaint quotes.

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Pennsylvania State Police crash investigators concluded Shoff’s Cobalt reached about 90 mph as he crested a hill on the 40 mph speed limit road. When he lost control, investigators said he overcorrected, which caused the car to spin into an embankment at about 72 mph. The car then struck the utility pole and rolled onto its roof, the criminal complaint shows.

Tome was ejected through the back window as the car rolled, police said.

Autopsy results found she died from multiple blunt force injuries.

Police also received evidence in the form of a Snapchat video Tome took the evening before the crash as she rode with Shoff and the other teen, exclaiming they drove into a field “again,” according to the complaint.

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Blood tests showed Shoff wasn’t intoxicated at the time, that he only had caffeine in his system, the complaint shows.

With his case transferred from a magisterial district court to the Court of Common Pleas, Shoff is now scheduled to be formally arraigned June 28, court records show.

— Reach Aimee Ambrose at aambrose@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @aimee_TYD.