East Penn Press

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

LEHIGH COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY

Wednesday, March 13, 2019 by CONTRIBUTED ARTICLE in Local News

Salisbury Township woman charged in multi-vehicle fatal crash

In a media release dated March 8, District Attorney James B. Martin announced a Salisbury Township woman has been charged in relation to a fatal multi-vehicle crash.

Joyce Klahr, 77, of the 700 block of East Rock Road, has been charged with three counts of homicide by vehicle, a felony of the third degree; three counts of involuntary manslaughter, a misdemeanor of the first degree and four counts of recklessly endangering another person, a misdemeanor of the second degree.

In addition, Klahr is charged with one count of reckless driving, three counts of careless driving resulting in death and one count of red light violation, all summary offenses.

Klahr was arraigned March 8 through Central Booking by Magisterial District Judge Daniel Trexler.

The release provided the following details:

At approximately 8:57 a.m., Aug. 12, 2018, a crash occurred on Route 309 north at its intersection with West Saucon Valley Road/Center Valley Parkway. Saucon Valley Road lies to the west of Route 309. The road becomes Center Valley Parkway east of Route 309.

Sgt. Stephen Kuebler of the Upper Saucon Township Police Department was called to the scene. Upon arrival there, Kuebler observed a 2018 Jeep laying on its side in the southeastern area of the intersection. Klahr was identified as the driver. Klahr was outside of her vehicle, alert and talking.

A second vehicle, a 2014 Lexus, was also in the intersection. It was in the northbound lanes of Route 309 and was severely damaged. There were two occupants trapped inside: Eldon Priestley, 74 and his wife, Fern Priestly. Fern Priestley was 77 years old at the time of the crash. The Priestleys resided in Morristown, N.J.

Fern Priestley was pronounced dead at the scene. Eldon Priestley had severe injuries and was transported to Lehigh Valley Hospital-Cedar Crest.

On Dec. 6, 2018, Eldon Priestley died of complications from traumatic brain injuries sustained in the crash while a patient at a nursing facility in Montgomery County. He was 75 at the time of his death.

A third vehicle, a 2008 Ford Escape, also in the northbound lane of Route 309, was laying on its side. The sole occupant, Timothy Hank, 51, of the 400 block of Dotts Street, Pennsburg, was pronounced dead at the scene.

Kuebler investigated the crash. He interviewed witnesses and examined all vehicles involved. As a result of the investigation including reconstruction, it is alleged the defendant, Klahr, was grossly negligent and reckless in causing the crash which resulted in the deaths of Fern Priestley, Eldon Priestley and Timothy Hank.

It is also alleged Klahr drove into the intersection while failing to heed a steady red traffic signal controlling the traffic in the direction she was travelling.

Klahr allegedly struck the passenger side of the Priestley vehicle, which had the right of way, and that set in motion the chain of events leading to the deaths of three people.

As in every criminal case, the fact that an arrest has occurred or a complaint has been filed is merely an accusation; and the defendant, Joyce Klahr, is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.