Montgomery County police say the woman who caused a recent Hatfield hit-and-run accident was driving under the influence and reading a text message at the time of the fatal crash.
Thirty-one-year-old Sarah Ann Derstein of Towamencin has been charged with homicide by vehicle for causing the April 26 accident that left 15-year-old Dennis Kee dead.
The accident occurred at about 11:30 p.m. Kee and a friend were hit by Derstein’s 2007 Toyota Corolla as they were walking with four other teens on the shoulder of Route 309 in Hatfield. The impact pushed Kee over the guardrail. He landed in a field 10 to 15 feet from the road. The friends went to a nearby shopping center to call for help.
Kee was rushed to Lehigh Valley Medical Center where he was pronounced dead from multiple blunt force injuries. His friend, 15-year-old Deshawn Page, suffered a broken elbow.
Derstein left the scene of the crash. Her phone records show that she kept texting when the crash happened and was aware of the accident. She texted to her aunt, “I’m an idiot. Just got in an accident and I drove away.” Other messages showed that she was on her way to purchase marijuana.
Derstein traveled to the area of Ogontz Avenue and Cheltenham Avenue in Philadelphia and returned to the scene at 12:22 p.m. She told an officer that she hit something along route 309. Officers suspected she had been drinking and took Derstein to Abington Lansdale Hospital for a blood sample. Derstein’s blood-alcohol level was .167, more than twice the legal limit. Derstein told authorities that she had three beers in a local bar before the crash. A search warrant found marijuana in the car.
Derstein is charged with homicide by vehicle, homicide by vehicle while driving under the influence, driving under the influence, aggravated assault by vehicle while driving under the influence, possession of marijuana, accident involving death or personal injury, recklessly endangering another person, unsworn falsification to authorities, and traffic charges.
Derstein is being held at Montgomery County on $100,000 bail. Her preliminary hearing is set for June 3. She has a prior impaired driving arrest from April 2011.
The Philadelphia accident injury attorneys at Mednick, Mezyk, and Kredo would like to offer our sincere condolences to the family and friends of Dennis Kee. This is truly a tragic loss.