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Home > Topics > EMS Management
December 20, 2013

Felony charges dropped in Pa. EMTs death

Jeffery Plata waived his right to a preliminary hearing on charges connected to the crash that killed a fellow EMT

The Times-Tribune

TUNKHANNOCK TWP., Pa. — Felony charges of vehicular homicide and involuntary manslaughter were dropped Thursday against a man involved in a crash that killed a fellow emergency responder from Wyoming County.

Jeffery Allen Plata, 29, of Tunkhannock, appeared before Magisterial District Judge John Hovan and waived his right to a preliminary hearing on charges connected to the crash that killed fellow Tunkhannock Community Ambulance member Thomas Gruen on May 22.

Wyoming County District Attorney Jeff Mitchell said the waiver applied to amended charges of reckless endangerment, careless driving and driving at an unsafe speed.

Reckless endangerment is a misdemeanor that carries a maximum penalty of two years in jail and a $5,000 fine, Judge Hovan said. The two summary charges carry fines, but no jail time.

Mr. Mitchell said extenuating circumstances influenced the decision to drop the felony charges. Mr. Plata was responding to an accident at the time of the crash.

"In any event, it was clear he did not intend to hurt anyone," Mr. Mitchell said. "The result was horrible enough, and we tried to find a resolution to put Gruen's death behind us."

Mr. Plata was driving his 2011 Dodge pickup truck north on Route 92 around 8:30 p.m. on May 22. It had been raining heavily that night and the road was wet. Mr. Plata lost control on a slight bend and the vehicle began to spin, crossing over the southbound lane and striking a pair of trees.

Mr. Plata was able to get out of the vehicle, but Mr. Gruen had to be extricated. He was taken to Geisinger Community Medical Center in Scranton, where he died about five hours after the crash.

Court records note that an air bag module revealed that the vehicle was traveling 74 mph just prior to the accident. The posted speed limit was 45 mph.

Mr. Plata will be formally arraigned in the Wyoming County Court of Common Pleas on Feb. 7.

Copyright 2013 The Times-Tribune

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

All Rights Reserved

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