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Diabetic Harrisburg driver pleads guilty to 5 counts of homicide

An Harrisburg taxi driver was set to go on trial on vehicular homicide charges for causing a motorcycle accident, when the 66-year-old man decided to plead guilty.

The erratic driver's van slammed into a group of motorcyclists in Penn Township, killing all but one of the victims he hit. Five Lancaster County people died. A 27-year-old East Earl Township woman survived the late summer afternoon crash with several broken bones.

The man, who is a diabetic, could spend as many as 37 years in prison after admitting that the accident was caused because he got behind the wheel of his taxi without eating properly.

Witnesses say the van approached speeds of 100 mph in the June 2010 crash. A taxi's passenger was so frightened by the "crazy" driving that he asked the driver to stop along Route 72 and let him out.

The taxi driver confessed in court that he had not eaten enough to maintain a steady blood sugar level, thrown off by a diabetic condition. Prosecutors said the lack of food led to an "altered mental state" that might have caused the driver to fall unconscious or asleep.

The judge reminded the defendant that a guilty plea would mean that the driver's failure to eat equaled a "conscious disregard of substantial risk." The failure to control a diabetic condition would be construed as "criminal intent."

The taxi driver acknowledged the court's advice and pleaded guilty to all counts. The defendant posted $50,000 bail. He will remain free until sentencing, which will take place sometime in the next three months following a background check.

The surviving victim and family members of the victims who died may choose to file civil actions against the convicted man for negligence and wrongful death. A settlement or jury award could help defray costs the victims incurred and provide compensation for the losses of loved ones.

Source: lancasteronline.com, "Diabetic admits causing fatal crash," Brett Hambright, July 16, 2012

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