BY STACI WILSON
A New York man faces a third degree murder charge in what police say was a high speed, drug-related crash that killed an Endicott, N.Y., man May 10 on Interstate 81.
David Decker, 73, stopped his vehicle on the right shoulder of the highway. He was outside the driver’s side of his 2010 Chevrolet Traverse when a vehicle, driven by Dylan Schmiel, left the right lane, crossed the white fog line and traveled onto the shoulder striking the Traverse, then hitting the Endicott man.
“This accident was reckless in almost every way,” Tpr. Mark Prushinski said Friday outside the Gibson barracks. A significant amount of marijuana was found in Schmiel’s system, according to the trooper. “This gentleman’s actions led to the unnecessary death (of Mr. Decker).
According to police, Decker had pulled off the road in a “safe” area to check on a noise coming from his vehicle. The Traverse was about four feet off the travel lane, according to the affidavit.
After being struck by Schmiel’s vehicle – the Traverse traveled northward a short distance and came to rest on an embankment. Decker was thrown a short distance and was on the shoulder of the road, behind his vehicle.
According to the affidavit, witnesses reported Schmiel was driving erratically – even passing one car on the right shoulder of the highway shortly before the crash.
Schmiel was arrested in New York. He was extradited to Pennsylvania on Friday. After being taken to the Gibson barracks for processing, Schmiel was arraigned in New Milford District Court in front of Magisterial District Judge Jodi Cordner. He was denied bail and is being held in the Susquehanna County Correctional Facility. A preliminary hearing was scheduled for Aug. 25.
In addition to the third degree murder charge, Schmiel, 23, of Glen Falls, N.Y., was also charged by Tpr. Eric Burns with felony counts of homicide by vehicle while driving under the influence; aggravated assault by vehicle while DUI; homicide by vehicle.
He has also been charged with misdemeanor counts of use/possession of drug paraphernalia; DUI: controlled substance; involuntary manslaughter; recklessly endangering another person; and related summary offenses of disregard traffic lane; driving at safe speed; and careless driving.
According to the affidavit, Schmiel was driving at about 78 mph when he hit Decker. When interview by police the day of the crash, Schmiel told police he had “blacked out prior to the crash and believed it was because of his PTSD.” He told police he had been diagnosed with PTSD when he was 17 but had been cleared to drive.
Schmiel also told police they would find marijuana in his blood, but did not smoke it the day of the crash, according to the affidavit. He said that the day before the crash he smoked about .35 grams of “somewhat okay, not that great weed, lacking any potency.”
A lab report indicated that there was about 13ng/ml of THC in Schmiel’s blood.