Man charged with murder in double-fatal Newberry Twp. crash

Liz Evans Scolforo
York Dispatch
Bryan Hammaker

A Cumberland County man was driving under the influence of alcohol and marijuana when he crashed into a wooded area in Newberry Township, killing two of his friends and badly injuring a third, police allege.

Bryan Adam Hammaker, 27, of Cypress Hollow Road in Enola, remains in York County Prison without bail, charged with two counts each of third-degree murder, homicide by vehicle while DUI and homicide by vehicle. All those charges are felonies.

Hammaker also is charged with the felonies of aggravated assault, aggravated assault by vehicle and aggravated assault by vehicle while DUI, court records state. He's charged with misdemeanors and summary offenses as well, including DUI and driving infractions.

Killed during the Dec. 1, 2018, crash were Joseph E. Stevens, 25, and Ryan M. Klaiber, 26, both of Cumberland County, Newberry Township Police have said. They were pronounced dead at the scene and died of multiple blunt-force injuries.

Hammaker and his third friend, Mitchell Bumgardner, suffered serious injuries but survived. It was Bumgardner's Ford Focus that Hammaker was driving at the time of the crash, according to court documents.

"Obviously he's very distraught and has been distraught over this entire situation," defense attorney Patrick Lauer Jr. said of Hammaker. "These were some of his best friends. He's known them his entire life."

Hammaker was unconscious at the scene and flown by medical helicopter to York Hospital, according to police. Lauer said because of the severe injuries Hammaker suffered, including a brain injury, "he really has no recollection of the event."

Hammaker's friends didn't have a problem with him driving that night and felt he was safe to drive, according to Lauer.

"We don't know at this juncture what the cause of this accident was — if it was mechanical or if there was an issue with the tires," the attorney said. "That is going to be the big issue in this case: Causation."

The allegations: Charging documents filed Tuesday, Nov. 12, by Newberry Township Police state that Hammaker was driving the Ford Focus when it went off the road, down an embankment into a heavily wooded area and crashed into trees along the 700 block of Old Trail Road about 1:45 a.m.

Bumgardner told investigators they were coming from the Grotto Pub in Enola and were on their way to Bumgardner's home in northern York County to sleep for the night, charging documents state.

Bumgardner said he had been drinking and didn't want to drive, police said.

"Bryan Hammaker told Bumgardner that he was fine to drive the vehicle back to Etters," charging documents state.

Police allege Hammaker was speeding, going as fast as 89 mph on Old Trail Road, which is a 40 mph zone, according to documents.

He lost control of the southbound car, which crossed into the northbound lane before going down into the woods and crashing into a number of trees, police said.

A crash reconstruction determined that at the time of impact, the car was going about 62 mph, charging documents allege.

Hammaker also had marijuana in his system and a blood-alcohol level of 0.125%, according to charging documents. In Pennsylvania, an adult is driving drunk at 0.08%.

— Reach senior crime reporter Liz Evans Scolforo at or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.