Chandler police: Woman killed, children hurt in crosswalk

[Update Nov 2017: moving ahead in Chandler Muni on misdy charges, see below]
[Update as of Oct 21, 2017; no charges, no nothing; nothing on caselookup??]

Nov 2016: A driver was arrested after a collision at crosswalk left one woman dead and two small children seriously injured. The intersection has a signal; police, based on some witnesses, believe the driver ran a red light when he struck the people in the crosswalk crossing Ray Road at College Dr (also known as Ponderosa Dr) in Chandler, AZ. (it may be very near the boundary of Tempe).

Oh, and the driver was driving on suspended license, police say.

Police are investigating if the driver did indeed cause the crash by running a red light; which would make him eligible for the slightly more serious charges of 28-672 (I mean slightly more serious than the civil traffic ticket for running a red light 28-645. A violation of ‘672  is a minor misdemeanor); but additionally if his license was suspended for certain reasons, he would be eligible for the somewhat more more serious charges of 28-676 / 28-675 (serious injury / death) ; which are a class 5 / 4 felony. More about 28-672,5,6 here.

There are a number of traffic court entries for the driver over the years; though none indicated conviction of DUI; there were two DUI dismissals where the driver plead guilty to reckless driving (TR-2000004847, TR-2009003241 gulty reckless driving, and TR-2005004583 Dui/dismissed all Flagstaff). And a number of other traffic-related tickets.

The fatal victim has been identified as Pamela Hesselbacher, the two childred (a 2 and 3 year old) “remained in critical condition at the hospital on Monday…”. That news story didn’t give any updates on the suspect’s situation.

Here’s another tidbit:

Police investigators are trying to assess if he ran a red light, with Lieutenant Scott Veach saying, “Preliminary information indicates that they had the walk sign and that the light was red when the driver came through. We are still sorting that out through witnesses, but the first two witnesses we talked to confirm that.”

Crash Report

This is a Adot incident # 3201832.
Nothing notable; it is as described in the news reports: the driver is said to have disregarded a signal, striking the victims who were crossing in a marked crosswalk.

But it is an unusual combination because it’s a fatal crash that involved a (not fatally injured) bicyclist, the fatal counts are askew. There were bicyclists in 31 fatal collisions in 2016 and 31 bicyclists were killed; though one of the incidents involved a double-fatality.

Criminal Case

A slightly newer news story explains: “…because Epperlein is suspected of causing death and injury, while on a suspended license, it’s considered a felony.” thus he’s awaiting charges…

It was reported in April 2017 Family pleading for justice after mother killed in Chandler crosswalk last year, that Maricopa County Attorney declined to bring any charges. The victim’s mother naively said:

I really assumed that if someone killed someone while driving, they were going to jail… There was no question in my mind, and to find out that’s not the case, other people need to know this too.

Indeed.

The last bit in the news story, “Prosecutors said they were returning the case back to the city court for possible misdemeanor charges” presumably refers to 28-672 due to the red-light-running. They continue to say he was driving on a suspended license (“Police said the suspect, William Epperlein, ran a red light and was driving on a suspended license.”), which should qualify charges under 28-675 (an F4 version of 28-672); and was presumable what the felony referred to in the previous news stories is/was. HOWEVER, as of this writing there doesn’t appear to have been any charges (last checked caselookup 10/21/2017)

28-672 charges must be brought within two year (and IIRC, felony under 28-675 would be even longer) so they’r not out of time or anything but still; what’s the holdup? The news report in April 2017 did not address the (felony) 28-675, a charge that would have had to be brought by the county attorney.

As things grind on, the defendant and victims family were in Chandler muni court late Nov 2017 on misdemenaors, presumably 28-672 and driving on suspended license:

County prosecutors declined to prosecute the case because it “did not have the evidence necessary to try it as a felony,” according to Kieran.
Chandler police said both driving on a suspended license and running a red light are misdemeanor crimes.
ABC15 did some research and discovered that the suspect in this case, William Epperlein, has a history of bad driving. From DUI’s to driving on a suspended license, Epperlein had received multiple traffic citations in the past.
Once county prosecutors declined to prosecute the case, the city filed misdemeanor charges against Epperlein that included three counts of an accident with a serious injury/death and one count of driving on a suspended driver’s license….
Hesselbacher’s mother Jody Kieran addressed the judge.
“Mr. Epperlein has a long history of reckless driving and ignoring suspensions. Time and time again the justice system has failed to make Mr. Epperlein accountable for the actions,” said Kieran.
She added that had the courts been stricter with Epperlein in the past, her daughter may still be alive today.
— abc15.com


 

CHANDLER, AZ – One person has died and two more seriously hurt after a crash in Chandler.

The [a-word deleted] happened around 6 p.m. Saturday afternoon near College Avenue and Ray Road.

…The driver was arrested for allegedly causing death by use of a car while driving on a suspended license and may have run a red light.

Police have identified the driver as William Joseph Epperlein.

“Preliminary information indicates that they had the walk sign and that the light was red when the driver came through. We haven’t confirmed that yet. We are still sorting that out through witnesses, but the first two witnesses we talked to confirmed that,” said Lt. Scott Veach, with the Chandler Police Department.

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