Lehigh Valley

Robert W. Gawne, of Allentown, charged in deadly crash at Interstate 78 toll booth near Easton

He was driving tractor trailer that killed NJ man in fiery crash

Trucker charged in deadly crash at toll booth near Easton

EASTON, Pa. - An Allentown truck driver has been arrested in a fiery accident that killed another motorist at the Interstate 78 toll booth in Williams Twp., Northampton Co.

Robert Wayne Gawne Sr., 55, of 509 1/2 W. Tilghman St., has been charged with vehicular homicide, involuntary manslaughter, recklessly endangering another person and failure to obey traffic control devices.

After being arrested Thursday, Gawne was committed to Northampton County Prison, unable to post $50,000 bail.

The accident occurred around 8 a.m. Jan. 13 in the toll booth in the westbound lanes of Interstate 78,  just west of the Delaware River at the Pennsylvania line. Police said Gawne failed to slow down as he approached the toll plaza.

Daniel C. Murphy was paying a toll when the tractor trailer came through the booth, slamming into Murphy's 2000 Ford Taurus station wagon and pushing it through the toll plaza. Both vehicles burst into flames.

Murphy, 65, of of Hackettstown, N.J., was trapped in his vehicle and died at the scene. Police said Murphy's car was almost completely under the tractor trailer's cab and fully engulfed in flames.

Police said Gawne was not injured.

Gawne told police he fell asleep at the wheel. He also admitted "nodding off" about 20-30 minutes before the crash.  He said he had rolled down his window and turned up his radio to stop the fatigue.

Other charges against Gawne include careless driving, reckless driving, failing to stay in this own lane and failing to drive at a safe speed.

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