Denver man not criminally responsible in fatal crash

By on March 12, 2014

A Denver man has been charged with traffic violations – not criminal charges – in connection with an August car crash that killed a recent Ephrata High School graduate.

Roger Fitzwater Jr., 42, is charged with summary counts of speeding, making an illegal pass, careless driving and failure to obey a road sign regarding the Aug. 5 crash in ClayTownship, according to an Intelligencer Journal article.

Dakota “Cody” Schnettler, 18 – who had just graduated – was killed after the high-speed collision on Mount Airy Road.

After a seven-month investigation, police decided not to file criminal charges, such as vehicular homicide, the article said.

Essentially, Fitzwater’s attorney said, Fitzwater wasn’t at fault for the teen’s death.

Fitzwater and Schnettler’s passenger, 17-year-old Tyler Gallagher, were seriously hurt in the afternoon crash, police reported.

Investigators determined that Fitzwater was attempting to pass Schnettler’s Volkswagen convertible when his Porsche was struck by the Volkswagen in the left lane. The Volkswagen veered into the left lane while Fitzwater was making the illegal pass, the article said.

Northern Lancaster County Regional police Sgt. Rodney King filed the summary violations Friday.

Fitzwater faces a fine and a minimum of three points on his driving record, according to his attorney. However, Breit said, Fitzwater will challenge the citations at an appeal hearing.

Fitzwater was cited for speeding, but investigators said it didn’t cause Schnettler’s death.

Drugs and alcohol weren’t factors in the crash and police didn’t conclude that the two drivers were racing.

Upon impact, the Porsche flipped and landed upright. The Volkswagen veered off the road and struck a tree.

Fitzwater was cited with making an illegal pass because he crossed over a double-yellow line to get by the Volkswagen, the article said.

He was cited with failure to obey road signs because a section of Mount Airy road was marked as closed for construction.

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