A Little Egg Harbor N.J. woman is facing some life altering charges after admitting to alcohol consumption prior to causing a crash striking – and altering the lives of multiple Firefighters and a PA State Trooper in Pennsylvania this past weekend.
As you know, Lower Merion Firefighter Thomas Royds was killed in the Line of Duty, leaving his wife, kids, family and friends behind. Other members all have a major recovery, both physically and emotionally ahead. That department and its many fire companies had not even yet been able to grieve and process the recent Line of Duty Death of Firefighter Sean DeMuynck on the 4th of July, and now face this.
Jacquelyn Walker, 63, of Little Egg Harbor said she’d been drinking before she got behind the wheel of her car which crashed into another crash site at which members were already operating. Fire, EMS and PA State Troopers were already on the scene of that other DUI-related crash when Walker’s Jeep swerved into the shoulder of the roadway and crashed into the vehicle involved in the initial incident.
Walker was mixing alcoholic drinks behind the wheel at the time of the second crash, according to an arrest report. Walker was outside her car after the crash saying, “Oh my God, oh my God,” repeatedly. The document says she was shaken up; the officer writing the report noted she smelled like alcohol and had slurred speech.
Another officer watched as Walker dumped “a brown liquid out onto the road” near her car. A later search of her Jeep revealed an empty rum bottle. During a later conversation, Walker told authorities she purchased the liquor prior to the crash and mixed it with soda. She initially told officers she thought the crash happened around 1700 hours, but authorities say Walker crashed into the group around 0310 hours. Troopers say she then was seen pouring alcohol out of a cup onto the road. She was taken into custody and gave consent to draw blood. Cops found an opened bottle of rum between the front and back seats of her vehicle, the documents say.
According to an affidavit, Walker had exited her vehicle and was seen leaning on the Jeep with her hands on her face and “clearly shaken.” She kept repeating “Oh my God.” Walker had glassy and bloodshot eyes and officers detected an odor of alcohol on her breath. They say her voice was slurred as she talked.
Walker told authorities she had driven to the Quaker Bridge Mall earlier that day for a 4 p.m. and that she got lost on her way home and stopped at a couple of places for directions. She told police she was on I-295 when she got off the road to get a soda.
According to the affidavit, Walker said she had stopped at a liquor store to get some rum. She opened the rum in the car and poured some into the soda she had purchased earlier. The documents say she admitted she was drinking it while driving around. She also admitted, authorities say, to pouring out the alcohol.
Walker said she had thought about getting a room, but couldn’t find one so she continued to drive around. She allegedly told police she believed she was still on I-295 at the time of the crash.
She recalled seeing the ambulance and said she just “went straight and when I looked up at the last second, I saw five state troopers and men that work on the streets.” Police say Walker told them she knew she hit someone. She allegedly said she hit the brakes, but they didn’t work.
Tyre Malik McCall, of King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, and Cole Henry Strempel, of Pottstown, Pennsylvania, were also taken into custody at the scene and charged with DUI in reference to the original crash.
Funeral arrangements are pending for Firefighter Thomas Royds and will be announced when available.