Probation in fatal York-area crash, thanks to victim's understanding family
A Codorus Township man who caused a crash in Spring Garden Township that killed a 90-year-old man about 19 months ago has avoided prison.
The Dec. 20, 2017, crash killed Charles Schaszberger of Springettsbury Township, police have said.
Andrew Ray Brenneman, 51, of Brush Valley Road, appeared in York County Court on Monday, July 15, where he pleaded guilty to the misdemeanors of involuntary manslaughter and reckless endangerment, according to court records.
In exchange for his plea, charges including third-degree felony vehicular homicide were dropped, records state.
Brenneman was sentenced to two years of probation by presiding Common Pleas Judge Harry M. Ness.
Brenneman caused the crash by accidentally running a red light, according to his defense attorney, Jeff Marshall, who said there were two reasons the vehicular homicide charge was dropped.
The primary reason, he said, is because Schaszberger's family didn't want to see Brenneman receive a harsh punishment.
"The (victim's) family was more than understanding," Marshall told The York Dispatch.
Also, recent case law in Pennsylvania indicates prosecutors need something more than reckless driving to prove the "mens rea" required for homicide by vehicle.
"I think that was taken into consideration too," Marshall said.
Mens rea refers to criminal intent and is literally translated from Latin as "guilty mind," according to Cornell Law School. It basically refers to someone knowing or intending to break the law.
The crash: According to court documents, Brenneman was driving a box truck eastbound on Country Club Road about 1:15 p.m. when he ran a red light at the intersection with Grantley Road.
Schaszberger, who was northbound on Grantley Road, was stopped at the intersection but drove into it after his light turned green, police said.
His car was T-boned on the driver's side by the box truck Brenneman was driving, which was going about 35 mph, according to court documents.
Schaszberger was rushed to York Hospital, where he was pronounced dead, police said.
A passenger in Schaszberger's car also suffered injuries, but she has fully recovered, according to Marshall. The passenger was Schaszberger's adult daughter, prosecutors said.
Marshall said that after the hearing, Brenneman spoke with Schaszberger's son, apologized and gave the family a sympathy card.
Senior deputy prosecutor Erin Bloxham, who handled the case, said Schaszberger's son and daughter were interested in forgiveness and moving forward, "so long as (Brenneman) was willing to take accountability for the incident."
Bloxham said the children wanted to show him mercy rather than pushing for a felony conviction and prison time.
There was no evidence to suggest Brenneman was driving impaired or distracted, the prosecutor said.
About the victim: Schaszberger served in the Army during World War II and retired from the St. Regis Paper Mill, where he worked in the carpentry shop, according to his obituary.
He was a member of the Viking Athletic Association and the Prince Athletic Association, his obituary states.
— Reach senior crime reporter Liz Evans Scolforo at email@example.com or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.