NJ woman with bad brakes charged with murdering firefighter in crash
NORRISTOWN, Pa. — An Ocean County woman is facing an upgraded charge of third-degree murder in Pennsylvania stemming from a summertime crash that killed a man and injured three others, all first responders.
Jacqueline Walker, 63, of Little Egg Harbor, was fully sober during the early morning crash along westbound Interstate 76 on July 24, according to Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele.
But, she was speeding in a 2004 Jeep Grand Cherokee, knowing that three of its four brakes were shot, he said.
“Our extensive investigation found that Walker operated her vehicle despite knowing that her brakes were not in functioning order, operating her vehicle in such an extreme reckless manner that she plowed through an active, well-marked emergency response area, severely injuring three first responders and killing another first responder, leading us to add the third-degree murder charge,” Steele said in a written release on Tuesday.
A two-car crash had been reported on the highway just after 3 a.m., involving a Chevrolet Malibu and Nissan Altima.
First responders were on scene about 20 minutes later, with a fire truck and marked State Police vehicle, plus orange safety cones guiding traffic, when Walker’s Jeep plowed into the Altima, pushing both vehicles 30 feet before coming to a stop.
Thomas Royds, a firefighter, was killed while two other firefighters and a state trooper were badly hurt, authorities said.
Toxicology tests on Walker’s blood showed no alcohol or drug impairment, Steele said, while previous records and evidence revealed that she had declined to fix the brakes and continued to drive the Jeep.
Walker is also charged with homicide by vehicle, four counts of aggravated assault by vehicle, nine counts of recklessly endangering another person, reckless driving and related charges.
She remains at the Montgomery County jail after a judge declined to set bail during her arraignment Tuesday.
A preliminary court hearing is set for Oct. 14.