Police: Trucker on phone never stopped, crushing NJ couple to death
The truck driver who fatally rear-ended a New Jersey couple's car while they were driving to their wedding on Route 78 was on his cell phone and never stopped, according to Pennsylvania State Police.
Kathryn M. Schurtz, the daughter of a former Fanwood councilwoman, and her fiancé Joseph Kearney were headed to Pittsburgh on Nov. 14 when they were hit in Berks County by a tractor trailer driven by Jaspreet Singh Chahal, 24, of Fresno, Calif., according to Pennsylvania State Police. The impact of the crash pushed the couple's vehicle under a tractor trailer in front of them, according to a police report.
The collision caused a chain-reaction crash that involved five trucks, according to police, who said Chahal's truck and the couple's car caught fire. The highway was closed for more than eight hours for cleanup and investigation of the wreck.
Attorney John T. Adams told the Reading Eagle that Chahal's sister called police who said she was talking to him when she heard a noise and the call cut off. A check of phone records confirmed Chahal was on the phone at the time of the crash, according to Adams.
Pennsylvania state law prohibits commercial vehicle drivers from holding a cell phone while driving.
A warrant was issued for Chahal's arrest on charges of homicide by motor vehicle, reckless endangering, reckless driving, careless driving resulting in death and following too closely. Adams told the newspaper police do not know Chahal's current location.
Shurtz grew up in Fanwood and graduated from Union Catholic High School in Scotch Plains in 2001. She earned degrees from George Washington University and Notre Dame, according to her obituary. She was the head of platform partnerships for Oracle Data Cloud in New York City and had been living in Jersey City.
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