Tractor-trailer driver charged nearly a year after crash that killed Mount Joy siblings in May 2021 | Local News

Northern Lancaster County Regional police have charged the driver of a car-carrying tractor-trailer who they say crashed into the vehicle carrying a brother and sister — killing them — at an East Petersburg intersection last year.

Cesar Torres, 38, of Florida, is charged with two felony counts of homicide by vehicle, two misdemeanor counts of involuntary manslaughter, a summary count of failure to stop at red light and driving at an unsafe speed.

Torres’ tractor-trailer struck the passenger side of an pickup truck at Graystone Road and Main Street (Route 72) shortly after 9 pm May 22, causing the pickup truck to burst into flames, police previously said.

Mount Joy siblings Brandie Leigh Kasper, 21, and Leonard Christian Kasper, 18, who were inside the pickup truck, were pronounced dead at the scene. An autopsy later determined they died of thermal burns, smoke inhalation and multiple traumatic injuries, according to the Lancaster County District Attorney’s Office.

Torres was evaluated at the scene and released from medical care, police said at the time of the crash. He also underwent a chemical test, which police said was typical in crash investigations involving commercial vehicles.

A reconstruction of the crash revealed that Torres was traveling between 31 and 33 mph when it “went through a steady red traffic light and struck the passenger side of the (Kaspers’) pickup truck.” The speed limit in the area was 25 mph.

The pickup truck was traveling at approximately 7.5 mph, the district attorney’s office said.

Four witnesses saw the crash, the district attorney’s office said, and a mechanical inspection of the tractor-trailer turned up no evidence of preexisting failures.

“Through the investigation, it was concluded that Torres was the sole contributor of the cause of the collision,” the district attorney’s office said in a press release, adding that Torres had “sufficient time and distance to see the light and come to a controlled stop…”

The Kaspers’ father, Len Kasper, said he believed a longer traffic light delay at the intersection could have saved his children during an interview last year.

On Thursday, Len Kasper thanked Northern Lancaster County Regional police and the district attorney’s office for “bringing charges against Mr. Torres for his tragically negligent and careless actions that stole our beloved children from us and robbed them of their bright futures. heal our hearts as the incomprehensible loss of our precious children has left our family with a life-long sentence of sadness and despair.”

He added that more needs to be done “to ensure the safety of all motorists along this dangerous stretch of deadly road.”

The charges came nearly 11 months after the fatal crash. Sean McBryan, a media specialist and spokesperson with the district attorney’s office, said that investigating crashes like this takes time, due to a plethora of reasons.

“Investigating serious crashes are often complex and labor intensive in order to determine things like the crash sequence, vehicle speeds, sight distance, as well as securing witness accounts,” McBryan said. “In this case, those tasks were additionally affected by the retirement of the lead collision reconstructionist during the investigation.”

McBryan added that as of Thursday afternoon, police are still working to apprehend Torres. It was not immediately clear if police believed Torres was in Pennsylvania or Florida.

The crash is one of several along a roughly 5-mile stretch of Route 72 between Manheim and East Petersburg that have resulted in deaths or serious injuries in the past year, several of which also involved tractor-trailers. East Hempfield Township officials have since announced an emergency response plan to address the fatalities at one intersection along Route 72 less than two miles away from the crash that the Kasper siblings.

– 10-year-old Libby Miller was killed and another person was injured in a crash that happened at Lititz and Lancaster roads (Route 72) in February.

– 29-year-old Shannon B. McCoy-Rooney was hit and killed by a vehicle while she was trying to cross Main Street (Route 72) near the intersection with Enterprise Road, just south of East Petersburg, in March.

– Last year a 21-year-old motorcyclist was killed after crashing with two other vehicles, one of them a public works vehicle, near Quarry Road in October.

– Three people were also hospitalized with traumatic injuries after a head-on crash near Hillside Avenue in Penn Township on Sept. 3.

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