Pa. trooper charged in fatal crash on Pa. Turnpike

Pa. State Trooper Barry Searfoss on June 25, 2012, moments after posting bail. Searfoss was charged with homicide by vehicle in connection with a crash along the Pa. Turnpike.

June 25, 2012 3:53:02 PM PDT
40-year-old Barry Searfoss of Coatesville left an Ambler, Pa. courtroom Monday without comment.

The Pennsylvania state trooper, who was assigned to the Bureau of Gaming Enforcement, was arraigned on charges including homicide by vehicle while driving under the influence of alcohol, which carries a mandatory, minimum three-year jail sentence.

His blood alcohol level registered at .188

"You're talking about a level that's over double the limit," said Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Ferman, "so that's going to be significantly impaired, their judgment their perception, ability to respond and react."

Back on May 18th around 10:00 p.m. viewer video captured the fiery crash on the Pennsylvania Turnpike in Upper Dublin Township.

Police say the off-duty trooper crashed his 2003 Toyota Tacoma pickup truck into the back of the 1997 Lincoln Town car driven by 21-year-old Robin Williams of Logan.

Flames engulfed her car. Williams was found deceased in the driver seat.

Investigators say she had suddenly lost a tremendous amount of speed due to mechanical problems with her car. She was going between 11 and 16 miles per hour.

Authorities say Searfoss was going up to 76 miles per hour.

"He acknowledged her car was stuck in middle of road. Certainly that does not obviate his need to go around it. And he certainly, had he not been under the influence, would have been able to maneuver around her," said Ferman.

The district attorney explained Searfoss had spent the day at a charity golf outing in Bucks County, held for a woman who had lost her life to a drunk driver back in 1997.

Court papers say a responding trooper observed Searfoss was "unsure of his steps and wobbly, and noted a strong odor of alcoholic beverage."

Searfoss' attorney, Chris Hoy, spoke for his client.

"This is a tragedy of epic proportions, particularly for family that lost their daughter," said Hoy. "And it certainly is not lost on Mr. Searfoss or us how important this case is for them and what a tragedy it's been."

Searfoss was released after surrendering his license and passport, posting 10 percent of $50,000 bail and agreeing not to drink any alcohol.

Searfoss has been suspended without pay. He is expected back in court next week.