Ex-York prosecutor gives 2nd chance to man who crashed into her home
A former York man who was fleeing from police when he crashed into a Manchester Township home last summer — leaving a massive hole in the house — has been given a second chance thanks to the homeowner, a former York County prosecutor.
Homeowner Jennifer Smith said the mishap offered her a second chance as well, career-wise. At the time of the July 4, 2018, crash, Smith was in private practice, defending criminal clients.
She said she wasn't happy, and that the crash helped push her into making a change.
"That's when I left criminal law," she said, and turned to civil engineering, which she went to college for. "I'm happier now."
The driver of the car, Kameron D. Smith, also has reason to be happy. He expressed relief as he left a York County courtroom on Tuesday, Aug. 13, having avoided a felony record and prison for the crash.
"I actually have a chance ... to have a life," he said, and thanked Jen Smith. The two aren't related.
Immediately after the crash, Kameron Smith apologized several times to her at the scene, Jen Smith said in court Tuesday.
"I could tell he was remorseful for what he did," she told presiding Common Pleas Judge Harry M. Ness. "I did not want to see Kameron have any felonies."
No record: Prior to the crash, he didn't have a criminal record. He served in the Army from 2009 to 2012.
Jen Smith said she first reached out to Kameron Smith at his preliminary hearing. Since then, he has begun to do work at her home — which has since been repaired — including gardening and rebuilding a stone wall.
She said she warned him, "This is a one-time get-out-of-jail-free card."
As part of a negotiated plea agreement, Kameron Smith, 29, now of Marysville, Perry County, was sentenced to six years' probation and ordered to pay State Farm Insurance about $62,764 in restitution, as well as $1,000 restitution to Jen Smith.
Ness also ordered the defendant to pay a $500 fine and court costs.
Kameron Smith pleaded guilty to the misdemeanors of fleeing or attempting to elude police and two counts of reckless endangerment. In exchange, felony charges were dropped.
He told The York Dispatch he was shocked when Jen Smith reached out to him.
"It was totally unexpected," he said. "It's a blessing."
"There are so many young black men who have felonies on their record who don't deserve them," Jen Smith said. "I didn't want this following him for the rest of his life."
The two said they now consider themselves friends.
The crash: Court documents state police tried to stop a northbound Mini Cooper after clocking it going 80 mph in a 55 mph zone on Interstate 83 near the Route 30 exits about 11 a.m. July 4, 2018.
Instead of stopping, the Cooper accelerated and left the highway, fleeing northbound on North George Street at a high rate of speed, documents state.
The Cooper passed a vehicle on the shoulder as it crested a hill in the 3000 block of North George Street, documents state.
"After cresting the hill, I observed a plume of debris on the left side of the road," state police Cpl. Brian Torkar wrote, then saw "an enormous hole in the side of the brick structure."
Kameron Smith climbed out of the car through its sunroof, at which point Torkar arrested him, according to documents, which state Kameron Smith was driving with a suspended license.
'It was intense': At the time of the crash, Jen Smith told The York Dispatch that she and her mother, who lives with her, were inside the home when the crash happened. They escaped injury, she said.
"We were both shaking — we could hardly keep our wits about us," she said. "It was intense."
Smith's security system recorded the crash, including Kameron Smith crawling out of the wreckage and being arrested at gunpoint by Torkar.
In court, Kameron Smith was unable to give a reason for fleeing from police. Defense attorney George Margetas said his client has indicated it was a dumb mistake.
"It's behavior without explanation," an amused Judge Ness noted.
Jen Smith said she'd been doing renovations on her home for about six months when the crash happened, but at that point she had not done any improvements to the damaged room.
The room has now been repaired and renovated, she said.
— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.