Driver Charged with Text-Messaging when he Caused Fatal Crash in Strasburg

A Lancaster driver is charged with causing a fatal crash last summer in Strasburg Township by text-messaging on a heavily-traveled road.

Phong Chadd Pham was arraigned Wednesday morning on counts of vehicular homicide, involuntary manslaughter, and related counts regarding the July 16, 2015, crash that killed 78-year-old Eva Kunkle.

Pham, 24, was driving on Beaver Valley Pike (Route 222) when he veered into opposing traffica bout 3:54 p.m.

Kunkle’s vehicle was struck head-on. She died at the scene.

Pennsylvania State Police Trooper James Trunfio filed charges, with approval from Assistant District Attorney Christine L. Wilson, at District Judge William Benner’s office.

On Wednesday afternoon, Judge Benner arraigned Pham on the charges. Wilson requested a cash bail amount; Judge Benner set bail at $50,000, which was posted by a bondsman.

Pham, while traveling south, failed to negotiate a turn in the road when his Acura sedan veered across the center line. Kunkle’s Mercury sedan was struck head-on.

Pham was seriously injured in the crash.

An examination of Pham’s phone showed text-messaging activity happened prior to the collision.

“It is reasonable to conclude that (Pham) … was distracted from driving by texting,” Trooper Trunfio reported.

The homicide by vehicle charge is a third-degree felony; the involuntary manslaughter charge is a first-degree misdemeanor.

Trooper Trunfio also filed summary counts of reckless driving, lane violation, and engaging in text-based communications while driving.

Pham is presumed innocent.

MEDIA CONTACT: Brett A. Hambright, 717-295-2041; bhambright@co.lancaster.pa.us; Twitter: @BrettHambright