Jul 17, 2023

Wrightstown Man Charged With Vehicular Homicide In Fatal Crash

NEWTOWN BOROUGH, PA — An 18-year-old Wrightstown Township man has been charged with vehicular homicide by the Newtown Township Police in a crash that killed a Northampton Township woman in April.

Benjamin Gillie was arraigned on Monday before on-call Judge Daniel J. Finello Jr. on charges of homicide by vehicle, recklessly endangering another person (two counts), exceeding the maximum speed limit by 41 mph, obedience to traffic control devices, and disregarding traffic lane. Bail was set at $100,000 unsecured bond.

According to court documents, the accident happened on April 28 around 5:30 p.m. on Worthington Mill Road in the area of Mud Road when an eastbound Audi S4, driven by Gillie, briefly left the roadway, spun out and crashed head-on into a westbound Subaru CrossTrek driven by Elisabeth Burnett-Martin, 49, of Northampton Township.

The impact of the crash pushed the Subaru 11 feet back from the point of impact and rotated the car clockwise until it was facing east on Worthington Mill Road, according to court documents. The crash left a seven-inch-long gouge in the roadway at the point of impact.

Firefighters from Lingohocken and Newtown Fire and Rescue worked for 30 minutes to free Burnett-Martin from the wreckage of her car. She was transported to St. Mary Medical Center where she succumbed to her injuries on April 29.

An autopsy was conducted and the cause of death was listed as "multiple injuries" sustained as a result of the accident.

Gillie and a 17-year-old passenger were treated for non-threatening injuries.

According to documents, a download of the Electronic Data Recorder from the black Audi S4 showed that five seconds prior to the crash it was traveling at 65 mph with the accelerator pedal at 92 percent. At 2.5 seconds prior to the crash, the Audi was traveling at 81 mph, 41 mph above the posted speed limit with the accelerator pedal at 94 percent, said the documents.

Documents also show that a download of the EDR from the Subaru determined it was traveling at 42 mph with the accelerator pedal at zero percent. At 2.5 seconds prior to the crash, the vehicle was traveling at 41 mph with the accelerator pedal at zero.

According to court documents, a witness told police that he was driving behind the Subaru when he observed the Audi in the eastbound lane lose control and begin to spin. The vehicle spun into the westbound lane and struck the Subaru head-on.

A preliminary hearing for Gillie is scheduled for September 11 in District Court in Newtown.

In her obituary, loved ones described Burnett-Martin as "utterly unique and simply unforgettable - cheerful and silly, brilliant and boisterous, multitudinous and loyal. She lived her life in empathy and hope. She laughed easily and loudly, giggled often, and gave generous, comforting hugs."

Burnett-Martin, formerly of Warren Ohio, was a research scientist who loved travel, her beloved fur babies, sailing, and giving thoughtful gifts. She also loved bright impressionistic art, flowers, English literature, trashy novels, fields of lavender, family pancake weekends, camping in July, live music, baseball, holiday gift-giving, and sappy movies and TV.

Jeff Werner