Multiple charges for driver in I-95 crash

July 12, 2008 12:29:22 PM PDT
It was a true traffic nightmare on I-95 Friday morning involving a fatal crash. It all started around 10:00 a.m. in the southbound lanes near Bridge Street. A total of five cars were involved.

A blue pickup, driven by Ferdinand Ramirez-Villaneuva, 49, of Philadelphia was traveling in the southbound lanes, when it was hit by Chevy Monte Carlo driven Steve Hafto, 25, of Berlin, New Jersey. The truck crossed the median and ended up in the northbound lanes.

Ramirez-Villaneuva and passenger Anna Torres, 49, were thrown from the vehicle; Ramirez-Villaneuva died, while Torress suffered serious injures.

This caused the shutdown of I-95 southbound from Academy to the Betsy Ross Bridge, and northbound from Allegheny Avenue to Bridge Street.

By two this afternoon, the crash had been cleared and traffic was moving again.

"Around 10:00, we received a call of a traffic accident on I-95 between Bridge and Cottman. The accident incorporated both northbound and southbound," Sgt. Shawn Toboz of the Pennsylvania State Police said.

State police arrived to find a blue pickup truck overturned on the northbound side. Ramirez-Villaneuva had been traveling southbound when, police say, he was hit by a Monte Carlo that was speeding, according to police.

Witnesses said the Hafto was swerving in traffic just before colliding with the pick-up and another car.

"Through witness statements [he was driving] in and out of traffic, again, at some point in time he collided with the pick up truck. The pickup lost control and rolled over the guardrail," Sgt. Toboz said.

Ramirez-Villaneuva and Torres were ejected. Police say they were not wearing seatbelts. Ramirez-Villaneuva was pronounced dead at the scene. Police shut down a long stretch of highway and flew in a special accident investigation team.

Some motorists sat still for at least an hour before police diverted them off onto surrounding streets.

"I walked up and down about a half a mile. Everybody's out of their cars. Nobody's going anywhere any time soon," Mike Wimberly of Woodbury, New Jersey said during the backup.

A state police drug expert on the scene determined Hafto appeared to be under the influence. He was arrested on the spot.

Hafto was charged at the scene with DUI and additional charges of homicide by vehicle while DUI, homicide by vehicle, aggravated assault while DUI, involuntary manslaughter, 4 counts of recklessly endangering another person, simple assault, and driving under the influence of alcohol or controlled substance.

The pickup truck did hit two other cars, a taxi cab and a Lexus sedan, when it crossed the median. Those drivers were treated for injuries from broken glass at the scene.

Hafto is awaiting arraignment at the Police Administration Building.