Truck driver pleads guilty in auto fatality in Edison

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A Pennsylvania man has pleaded guilty in causing the death of a 33-year-old Edison man while driving under the influence of narcotics.

John T. O’Donnell Sr., 59, of Nazareth, Pennsylvania, pleaded guilty on Sept. 28 to one count of vehicular homicide in the second degree and one count of assault by auto in the fourth degree. O’Donnell admitted that prior to the fatal crash, which occurred on April 5, 2016, he had taken a pain pill which altered his ability to drive, according to information provided by Middlesex County Prosecutor Andrew C. Carey.

The investigation determined that O’Donnell was driving a U-Haul rental box truck on Route 27 in Edison when he crossed over the center double yellow line and side swiped a Ford Explorer, causing minor injuries to the driver, according to the statement. O’Donnell continued on the wrong side of the road and crashed head-on into a Pontiac Grand Am, driven by Marcus Scroggins, 33, of Edison. The box truck pushed the Pontiac about 100 feet before stopping at the Division Street intersection.

Emergency medical technicians arriving at the scene noted O’Donnell was under the influence of narcotics and treated him with an opiate antidote commonly known as Narcan, according to the statement.

Under a plea agreement reached with Middlesex County Assistant Prosecutor Peter Nastasi, O’Donnell will be sentenced to a prison term of five years for causing the crash that killed Scroggins. He will have to serve 85 percent of his prison term before becoming eligible for parole.

O’Donnell was charged following an investigation by Detective Loren Long of the Edison Police Department and Detective Donald Heck of the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office.

He is scheduled to be sentenced in New Brunswick by Superior Court Judge Diane Pincus on Dec. 10.