Driving school

Man was driving under the influence, trying to flee police before crash that killed woman and injured child: police [update] | Local News

Update: This article has been updated with information from a probable cause affidavit.

A Maryland man has been charged with vehicular homicide after he rammed a vehicle and killed a 32-year-old woman who was driving and injured a 5-year-old child as she tried to outrun state troopers to avoid a DUI Monday morning in Caernarvon Township, according to state police.

Christofer Pineda-Gasca, 20, of northeastern Maryland, was also charged with vehicular homicide while driving under the influence, fatal accident or bodily injury without a license, flight or attempted robbery. evading police, theft to avoid apprehension, receiving stolen property, 10 counts of recklessly endangering another person and four other summary offences.

Pineda-Gasca rammed the vehicle, driven by Alicia Whisler, 32, in front of Conestoga Christian School in the 2700 block of Main Street (Hwy 23) at 9:08 a.m., according to a probable cause affidavit.

Whisler, a teacher at Conestoga Christian School, died from her injuries in the crash, police said. A 5-year-old girl inside his vehicle, who a state police spokesperson said was Whisler’s daughter, was taken to Reading Hospital and later released with minor injuries.

Ken Parris, principal at Conestoga Christian School, said Whisler was a resource room teacher at the school, working to create special curriculum plans for six students, mostly middle schoolers. Whisler, who had two children enrolled in school, was in her first year as a teacher.

Whisler was a talented and fun teacher with a dynamic personality, sharing her passion for growth at school by helping the science department set up its first hydroponics project, Parris said. Whisler grew things for his students and had a special love for making children smile by bringing them homemade treats.

A sixth-grader told Parris that what he will miss most about Whisler is “how he makes math fun,” he shared.

“She was loved,” Parris said. “She was loved by her family, by our school, by her church, and we would like people to support her family in prayer.”

At least a handful of students and staff witnessed the crash, which Parris said happened as Whisler pulled into the school parking lot for work.

Pupils were dismissed early on Monday and classes were canceled on Tuesday and Wednesday as school officials began developing a plan to support its students and others at school. Area pastors and bereavement counselors will be on campus to provide support when classes resume on Thursday, Parris said.

“We do our best to talk with (students) and pray with them, making sure they have support staff on campus and resources for their parents and know they can contact them. at any time,” he said.

Troopers had briefly arrested Pineda-Gasca moments earlier in Honey Brook, Chester County, and ordered him out of the car after noticing a stolen license plate on the vehicle he was driving, according to the report. affidavit. That’s when Pineda-Gasca, who later admitted to investigators that he smoked marijuana earlier in the morning and feared being arrested for driving under the influence, took off.

Pineda-Gasca was “weaving through traffic” at speeds up to 85 as he led police on a chase that took place in Lancaster County. He was trying to pass several vehicles in the oncoming lane of traffic when he hit the driver’s side of Whisler’s car, trying to turn left into the Conestoga Christian School parking lot, according to the affidavit. Whisler’s car overturned, crashed into a utility pole and landed on its roof.

Police believe Whisler, of Mohnton, Berks County, died in the impact of the crash, which the affidavit said “almost severed” his 2005 Chevrolet Cobalt.

Lancaster County Coroner Dr. Stephen Diamantoni said Monday that a woman, whom he did not identify, died from multiple traumatic injuries in the crash. His death was ruled accidental.

Parris said Whisler’s daughter’s daughter suffered a minor shoulder injury and is “doing fine” physically. Whisler’s family has requested confidentiality.

Pineda-Gasca was also taken to Reading Hospital for minor injuries and a blood test on suspicion of driving under the influence, police said. The results of the blood test were not mentioned in the affidavit.

While speaking with investigators after being released, Pineda-Gasca said he fled from soldiers because he was afraid of being arrested for a DUI. Pineda-Gasca felt remorse and cried at the end of the interview, telling investigators ‘he believed he should be punished for his actions’ and that ‘he wished he could have stayed on the scene and been arrested. for impaired driving rather than causing death,” according to the affidavit.

The 2003 Infiniti driven by Pineda-Gasca had been reported stolen two weeks earlier by Northeast Maryland police. Soldiers also found partially consumed drugs, a “thick pile” of cash, 30 grams of marijuana and eight grams of hashish in the vehicle.

Judge Miles Bixler set Pineda-Gasca’s bail at $75,000 at a preliminary arraignment on Tuesday. He was confined to Lancaster County Jail, unable to release that amount, according to court records.

An attorney was not listed for Pineda-Gasca in court documents.

Pineda-Gasca will face a preliminary hearing before Judge Raymond Sheller at 9 a.m. on April 13.