Charges filed in 2018 crash that killed off-duty firefighter

Suspect ID'd as Miguel Mejia, 58, of Lancaster

BERN TWP., Pa. - Berks County prosecutors have filed criminal charges in the crash that killed an off-duty Reading firefighter from the Lehigh Valley.

Miguel Mejia was arraigned by a magisterial district judge in Bern Township on Wednesday on charges that include homicide by vehicle, aggravated assault by vehicle, careless driving, reckless driving, and recklessly endangering another person.

Mejia was driving an SUV on Maidencreek Road in Maidencreek Township on the afternoon of May 25, 2018, when he lost control of the vehicle, hit another SUV and then hit a motorcycle being operated by Erik Hirner, authorities said.

"Mr. Mejia was traveling at such a high rate of speed he became airborne, lost the capability to steer," said District Attorney John Adams.

Hirner, an 11-year veteran of the Reading Fire Department and an assistant fire chief in North Catasauqua, Northampton County, later died of his injuries. He was on his way to work in Reading at the time of the crash.

Bail for Mejia, 58, of Lancaster, was set at $25,000. He's due back in court for a preliminary hearing on May 1.

In the meantime, Hirner's family members continue to cope with their grief. His sister, Jamie (Hirner) Nattress, released the following statement Thursday afternoon:

"On behalf of Erik's family, we are undoubtedly still saddened by my brother's death. The charges that have surfaced from the accident will not bring my brother back, but we do hope that in the end, the roads of Berks County and Reading will be safer for others. My brother spent his entire life saving lives, and we are relieved that it's possible some other family will be spared this type of tragedy. We cannot express enough gratitude to all of those who have been a tremendous support to us over the last 11 months and for all of the hard work done to get to this point. Erik's birthday is tomorrow coincidentally. I think he would be relieved of the outcome today.

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