Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Driver Accepts Fault in Trooper's Death

I really hope they throw the book at this woman. It won't bring back the great young man, but it might send a message that driving like an idiot, under the influence of drugs & alcohol will not be tolerated. I think one of the main reason's that they haven't enacted tougher fines and sentences for DUI is because the lawyers and politicians are afraid that they will be the ones caught. DUI Homicide should be no different then any other homicide. I don't think it should be 3rd degree manslaughter, it should be second degree homicide because it should be a felony to drive under the influence! The mandatory minimum in PA is 3 years, I hope she gets a good bit more than that. Maybe one year for each of Trooper Iwaniec's life.


AVONDALE - The woman accused of causing the death of a young state trooper sobbed Tuesday morning as a district judge read aloud the investigators' account of what happened on the night of the drunken-driving crash.

Kristina M. Quercetti, 40, of Landenberg, was intoxicated, speeding and driving with her headlights off when her vehicle crashed into 24-year-old Kenton E. Iwaniec's personal car on March 27, according to the arrest affidavit filed by state police at Avondale.

Quercetti's attorney indicated she did not intend to fight the charges against her and was ready to start serving an anticipated prison sentence Tuesday.

While leaving the courtroom, Quercetti said to reporters, "I just can't express how sorry I am."
Iwaniec was a native of western Pennsylvania who joined the Avondale barracks in January. He was heading to his Lancaster home after work when the crash happened about 10:15 p.m. on Route 41 near Mosquito Lane in London Grove.

Authorities said Quercetti was driving 73 mph with her headlights off when she crossed the road's center line and hit Iwaniec's car head-on. Quercetti's blood-alcohol content was 0.34 percent, records say, which is more than four times the state's 0.08 percent legal limit. She also had Oxycodone in her system, police said.

Authorities said they found a partially full bottle of vodka and 20 Oxycodone pills wrapped in cellophane inside Quercetti's purse in her vehicle.

Iwaniec was flown to Christiana Hospital in Newark, Del., where he died the next day during surgery, police said. Delaware Medical Examiner Jennie Vershvousky said Iwaniec died from the multiple blunt force injuries suffered in the crash, records say.

Quercetti's 4-year-old son was in the back seat of her car at the time of the crash and was uninjured, police said.
At her arraignment Tuesday, Quercetti cried and leaned into the defendant's table with her head in her hands as Magisterial District Judge Thomas Martin Jr. read aloud the affidavit.

Quercetti, who suffered a minor injury in the crash, was wearing a black brace over her left foot and calf. She also used a walker to get from the state police barracks to the district court next door. She was accompanied by her mother, who also cried during the arraignment.

After hearing the charges, Thomas Ramsay, the attorney representing Quercetti after the crash, told Martin his client would not be posting bail. Instead, he said, his client wanted to immediately go to prison to start serving her anticipated sentence.

Before the arraignment, Ramsay said, "Kristina recognizes that her actions caused an innocent young man with a promising career in law enforcement to lose his life. So, although the family has the financial ability to post bail, she has decided to begin serving her sentence now in recognition of the tragic consequences of her driving behavior."

State police charged Quercetti with homicide by vehicle while under the influence, aggravated assault, endangering the welfare of a child, reckless endangerment, driving under the influence and related charges.

Outside the courtroom, Ramsay said he expects his client to plead guilty and let a judge determine her sentence. The charge of homicide by vehicle while under the influence carries a minimum mandatory prison sentence of three years.

Her attorney said Quercetti's courtroom tears were "for the trooper, for the trooper's family and for her son. She cries for herself last."

First Assistant District Attorney Patrick Carmody said the circumstances surrounding the crash - the speed, the opened bottle of alcohol, the child's involvement and the turned-off headlights - are "shocking."

"Any homicide by vehicle is tragic ... but what's unusual in this case is the extreme recklessness of it," Carmody said from his office.

Carmody said he is still working to determine what sentence he will ask a judge to hand out. But he said Quercetti opting to go to prison now will "make sense to the public because she's off the street."

The move also helps her earn credit in Chester County Prison toward her anticipated state prison sentence, Carmody said.

After Quercetti was taken to prison, state trooper Corey Monthei read a prepared statement at the Avondale barracks.
"Our thoughts are with both families involved in this tragic accident," Monthei said.
Iwaniec graduated from the state police academy in January. Cpl. Steven Ranck, one of the crash's investigators, was Iwaniec's supervisor. Ranck said less than a week before Iwaniec's death he was put into a patrol car on his own.

"He was a great guy ... a real bubbly person," Ranck said. "There's no doubt in my mind he would've made an excellent state trooper."

Iwaniec was born Dec. 18, 1983, in Greensburg to parents Kenneth and Debra Garchar Iwaniec of Ligonier. He had three sisters. He was engaged to marry Julie Kromer of Greensburg.

At Ligonier Valley High School, he played football and ice hockey before graduating in 2002.
A 2007 graduate of St. Vincent's College, Iwaniec was a devout Catholic who acted as an altar server for more than 10 years at St. Boniface Parish in Chestnut Ridge. Then, while at the academy, he regularly helped set up for Saturday night Mass.

After an April 4 funeral at St. Vincent Basilica Parish, roughly 40 miles southeast of Pittsburgh, Iwaniec was buried at Fairmont Cemetery in Cook Township. Roughly 160 state troopers attended the services with hundreds of Iwaniec's family members and friends.

To contact staff writer Jennifer Miller, send an e-mail to

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