Driver accused of traveling 113 mph before fatal DWI crash indicted

Submitted by New Jersey DWI Lawyer, Jeffrey Hark.

A grand jury has indicted a Salem County man on aggravated manslaughter and death by auto charges following a fatal crash in which he was allegedly traveling at more than 100 mph just seconds before the collision.

Stephen M. Karwowski, 30, of Pittsgrove Township, was driving a pickup north on Route 49/South Broadway in Pennsville Township shortly before 6 p.m. on Dec. 4, when his vehicle struck the passenger side of Genita Townsend’s car as she made a left turn from southbound Route 49 into a restaurant parking lot, according to police.

Townsend, 52, of Pennsville, was pronounced dead at the scene.

The posted speed limit in the area is 40 mph and Karwowski admitted to driving 60 to 65 mph before the crash, according to his criminal complaint.

A witness told police Karwowski’s truck passed him on the shoulder before the crash and was traveling at 80 or 90 mph, while another witness put his speed at 70 mph, police said.

An analysis of the data recorder in Karwowski’s truck revealed he was traveling at 113 mph 3.5 seconds before the crash and 70 mph at the moment of impact, Salem County Assistant Prosecutor Geoffrey Gleason said during a hearing in March.

Karwowski allegedly told police he drank a few beers that afternoon while setting up for a party. An officer reported smelling alcohol on his breath, noted that his eyes were watery and bloodshot and said his speech was slow and slurred, according to an affidavit of probable cause.

Karwowski’s blood alcohol level was measured at 0.122%, above the legal limit of 0.08%.

He was initially issued motor vehicle summonses for driving under the influence, reckless driving, improper passing and failure to maintain lane, and criminal charges followed in March.

During the March hearing, defense attorney Jeffery Hark challenged probable case for the aggravated manslaughter charge, arguing that Townsend was responsible for the crash because she made a left across a double yellow line in front of oncoming traffic “without making due observation prior to commencing her turn.”

Gleason countered that any driver making a safe turn wouldn’t expect to encounter an oncoming vehicle traveling at such a high rate of speed.

A Salem County grand jury indicted Karwowski last week on charges of first-degree aggravated manslaughter, second-degree death by auto and fourth-degree aggravated assault.

The fourth-degree assault charge involves the driver of a third vehicle struck in the collision.

Karwowski remains free pending trial and is due to return to court July 1 for a post-indictment arraignment.

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Jeffrey Hark is a New Jersey Civil and Criminal Lawyer.

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