DA: Woman was under the influence when she crashed into SEPTA bus, killing her child

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Monday, January 8, 2024
DA: Woman was under the influence when she crashed into SEPTA bus
DA: Woman was under the influence when she crashed into SEPTA bus, killing her child

EAST NORRITON TWP., Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- A Montgomery County, Pennsylvania woman has been charged following a September 2023 crash that killed her 14-month-old child, according to the district attorney's office.

The crash happened at about 2:40 p.m. on September 30 near Old Arch Road and East Johnson Highway in East Norriton Township.

Police arrived to find a Mazda MPV minivan had crashed into a SEPTA bus.

The child, who was found by witnesses lying on the backseat floorboard of the vehicle, was taken to Suburban Hospital and then flown by medical helicopter to Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, the district attorney's office said. The child later died of blunt force trauma injuries to the head.

The driver, Arbetina Johnson-Lowery, 35, of Norristown, was trapped in the vehicle and had to be extracted. She was taken to Abington Hospital with multiple injuries.

The SEPTA bus driver was transported to Einstein-Montgomery Hospital and was treated for a knee injury.

Authorities said they found two empty bottles of Yukon Jack whiskey and a Newport cigarette box containing partially smoked marijuana cigarettes in the Mazda.

The Newport box was later found to also contain a foil packet of cocaine, according to the district attorney's office.

Authorities said a child's car seat was also found in the vehicle, but the restraints were not correctly set for the child's size.

Based on surveillance video and witness accounts, authorities said Johnson-Lowery was heading eastbound on East Johnson Highway when she made slight contact with the rear bumper of a vehicle in front of her, then crashed into the driver's side of the SEPTA bus. The bus was stopped to load and unload passengers, authorities said.

Detectives determined the Mazda was traveling between 47 and 50 miles per hour in a 35 mph zone when it hit the bus.

Testing on Johnson-Lowery's blood found Bromazolam (a designer benzodiazepine drug, similar to fentanyl), methamphetamine, metabolites of cocaine, and a small amount of alcohol, authorities said. Her driver's license had been suspended since September 2018 and the Mazda's registration had been suspended on Jan. 21, 2023, for insurance cancellation.

Johnson-Lowery is charged with Homicide by Vehicle-DUI, DUI, Accidents Involving Death While Not Properly Licensed, five counts of Recklessly Endangering Another Person and related charges.

She turned herself in to police on Jan. 5, 2024. Her bail was set at $500,000 with a condition of no driving.

A preliminary hearing is scheduled for February 5.