Criminal charges will advance in fatal Route 222 crash

Reading Eagle: Susan Keen | The scene of a five-vehicle crash on July 20 on southbound Route 222 in Spring Township near the merge ramp to Route 422 westbound. The crash killed a Leesport woman and injured nine other people.

Wednesday January 10, 2018

Criminal charges against a Spring Township man whose pickup truck slammed into the back of line of vehicles on Route 222 over the summer, killing a Leesport woman, will advance to Berks County Court as a result of a preliminary hearing this morning.

District Judge Ann L. Young ruled following a stipulated hearing in her South Heidelberg Township courtroom that there was enough evidence for the case against Kyle R. Reidenhour, 24, for the case proceed to trial.

Reidenhour of the 100 block of Springside Drive remained free to await further court action.

In a stipulated hearing, the prosecution and defendant agree not to present testimony. Instead, the district judge decides based solely on a review of the probable cause affidavit filed by the prosecution.

Following a nearly five-month investigation by Spring Township police and county detectives, Reidenhour was charged early last month with aggravated assault by vehicle, involuntary manslaughter and various summary traffic counts in the death of Beverly Greenwalt, 78.

Greenwalt was driving on Route 222 south of the Broadcasting Road on-ramp shortly before 4:30 p.m. July 20 when she encountered a line of stopped vehicles in the travel lane due to the bottleneck on the ramps that merge with Route 422 west, a common occurrence during peak afternoon traffic.

While Greewalt was stopped in the right travel lane, Reidenhour’s pickup slammed into the back of her car, pushing the trunk into the driver’s seat, investigators said.

Greenwalt was declared dead at the scene.

One of Greenwalt’s daughters, Cindy Conti, was a passenger in the car and was among the nine people injured in the five-vehicle crash, police said.

According to investigators:

A forensic inspection of Reidenhour’s Ford F-150 truck included a review of digital data retrieved from the event data recorder, or EDR, which is similar to the black box of an aircraft. The data revealed the truck was traveling at 74 mph about one second before the crash, covering a distance of 59 feet. At that speed, investigators calculated the driver would have needed a minimum of 498 feet to safely stop the vehicle to avoid a crash.

Reidenhour told investigators he was driving home from his manual labor job in Allentown after completing a 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. shift. He said he was familiar with the highway and that traffic congestion routinely occurs on that part of Route 222.

He initially claimed he was alert at the time of the crash but later admitted that he was exhausted due to working in the heat and enduring several nights of restless sleep. Reidenhour said he was extremely drowsy as he drove home and was fighting the urge to sleep for miles before the crash scene. He said he knew he should have pulled over but thought he could make it home because he was so close.

As he approached the Broadcasting Road overpass, he said a vehicle was passing on the left and another was merging on the right from the Broadcasting Road on-ramp. He said he was going between 57 mph and 60 mph and that he may have accelerated to get ahead of one of the vehicles.