LIMERICK TWP., Pa. - A Pottstown teenager's lawyer said his client is grief stricken after causing a deadly accident. The man behind the wheel of a car that struck and killed a jogger in Montgomery County earlier this month is now under arrest, police said.
The 18-year-old high school senior has been charged with vehicular homicide while under the influence in connection with a crash that killed a jogger: 40-year-old Merinda Thompson.
Justin Jackson did not say anything when he left a courthouse Thursday but his lawyer, Frank Genovese, spoke for him.
"It was just unfortunate circumstance that she happened to be jogging on the road while he was driving on the road. The crash happened," said Genovese.
Jackson was under the influence of marijuana and texting when his northbound car veered across North Lewis Road in Limerick Township on March 4 and struck Merinda Thompson, who was jogging north against southbound traffic, police said.
And the Montgomery County first assistant district attorney, Kevin Steele, said Merinda Thompson, the person who died, did nothing wrong.
"She's out to exercise. She's on the opposite side of the roadway jogging along and he comes over the roadway onto the shoulder area, hits her from behind, catapults her into a parking lot and kills her," said Steele.
Police said after the accident Jackson lied to them about what happened.
"He chose to drive a car after smoking dope, texting and not paying attention to the roadway and hitting a lady, Mrs. Thompson," said Steele.
Police said cell phone records show Jackson was texting, a search of Jackson's car turned up marijuana and a marijuana pipe, and blood tests showed marijuana in his system.
"We're dealing with a young kid. He's a high school senior. I think he had his license 7, 8 months prior to the accident happening," said Genovese, "Unfortunately, he's a kid. He's texting. He's got the radio going. I haven't seen any actual levels about the marijuana use, how that may have played into it, but there are a combination of factors that led to the accident."
Jackson's lawyer said his client has been in grief counseling since the accident happened on March 4th.
"Just feels terrible about it," said Genovese, "Even asked at one point if it would be appropriate for him to go to the viewing or the funeral. We kind of thought that might not be the best thing to do."
Prosecutors said it's important to remember what Jackson took from that family.
"There's two children that are going to be raised without a mother, a husband without his wife, parents without a daughter," said Steele.
Jackson, of Pottstown, was charged with homicide by vehicle while under the influence, homicide by vehicle, DUI, recklessly endangering another person, possession of marijuana, possession of drug paraphernalia and related traffic offenses.