New charges announced in crash that killed Montgomery County firefighter on I-76

Firefighter Thomas Royds was killed, and three other first responders were injured in the wreck.

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Tuesday, October 5, 2021
New charges announced in crash that killed firefighter on I-76
Investigators now say that Jacquelyn Walker was not only speeding before the crash, but three of the four brakes on her Jeep Grand Cherokee did not work.

LOWER MERION TWP., Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- Authorities in Montgomery County announced new charges, including third-degree murder, were filed against a woman in connection with a crash on Interstate 76 that killed a Belmont Hills firefighter and wounded three other first responders.

Police say a Pennsylvania State Police trooper and fire crews from Belmont Hills Fire Company and Gladwyne Fire Company responded to a DUI crash around 3:15 a.m. on July 24, in the westbound lanes of the Schuylkill Expressway near Waverly Road.

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About 20 minutes after first responders arrived at the scene, authorities say Jacquelyn Walker, 63, of Little Egg Harbor, New Jersey, drove her Jeep Grand Cherokee up on the right shoulder of the highway and crashed into firefighter Thomas Royds, two other firefighters and a state police trooper before colliding with a vehicle involved in the initial crash.

Jacquelyn Walker

Royds, with the Belmont Hills Fire Company, was taken by ambulance to Paoli Hospital where he succumbed to his injuries, according to police.

The trooper and two firefighters were taken to Penn Presbyterian Medical Center by medical helicopters and ground ambulance with severe injuries.

Investigators now say that Walker was not only speeding before the crash, but three of the four brakes on her Jeep Grand Cherokee did not work. They say this was something Walker was reportedly aware of, yet declined to fix.

The career firefighter worked at Friel Landscaping part-time and at the Union Fire Company full-time.

Officials say there was no evidence she tried to steer her Jeep away from the first responders.

However, authorities now believe Walker was not under the influence of drugs or alcohol, despite her previous admission of drinking before the crash. They withdrew the DUI charge after getting the toxicology report.

Walker, who has been at the Montgomery County Correctional Facility on $500,000 cash bail since the crash, is now charged with Third-Degree Murder, Homicide by Vehicle, four counts of Aggravated Assault by Vehicle, nine counts of Recklessly Endangering Another Person, Reckless Driving and related charges.