Homicide charges for woman in crash that killed 2 Central Pa. high school students – York Daily Record


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Nearly a year after a fatal bus crash, Eastern York High School football players reflect on that night and how it has changed their outlook on life.
John Buffone, jbuffone@ydr.com

A 63-year-old Lancaster County woman was driving more than 50 mph over the posted speed limit, according to police, when she started a crash that ultimately killed two Warwick High School students in October.

That woman, Debra Slaymaker-Walker, now faces two counts of third-degree murder along with a slew of other charges, the Lancaster County District Attorney’s Office and the Lititz Borough Police Department said at a news conference on Thursday.

Neither District Attorney Craig Stedman nor police Chief Kerry Nye suggested motive for Slaymaker-Walker’s alleged actions on that day.

“We are not presenting today a specific theory on her motive or state of mind at the time of the crash,” Stedman said at the news conference, according to a news release.

“We have an enormous amount of information and took much time and precision in determining these to be the appropriate charges. Illustrating specific motive is not relevant or necessary to prove charges as filed.”

More: High school student dies in 8-vehicle crash in Lancaster County

More: A year later, horrific bus crash still a vivid memory for Eastern York football players

The Oct. 26 crash claimed the lives of 16-year-old Jack R. Nicholson and 17-year-old Megan Keeney, plus seriously injured Rylan Beebe. They were in a Chevy Sonic that was struck from behind by Slaymaker-Walker’s speeding Kia SUV, which thrust the Sonic into oncoming traffic, where it was hit nearly head-on by another vehicle, police said.

Police estimate the Kia was traveling between 73-77 mph in a 25-mph zone just after Warwick students were dismissed from school for the day.

Police had already responded to reports of erratic driving involving Slaymaker-Walker along Route 772, where she allegedly struck a school bus full of students. No one was injured, and Slaymaker-Walker did not stop at the scene, police said.

She did not respond to earlier attempts by police to pull over and took evasive action to avoid Lititz police before the fatal crash, police said.

The woman was also seriously injured in the fatal crash and remains at an undisclosed medical facility, unable to further operate a vehicle, police said.

The arrest warrant was filed Thursday by Lititz police Sgt. Jared Hahn, and Slaymaker-Walker will be arraigned when she’s medically cleared to leave the facility.

The charges include:

  • 2 counts of third-degree murder
  • 2 counts of homicide by vehicle
  • 2 counts of involuntary manslaughter
  • 1 count of aggravated assault
  • 1 count of aggravated assault by vehicle
  • 1 count of simple assault
  • 1 count of hit-and-run
  • 1 count of fleeing police
  • 1 count of reckless endangerment
  • summary counts of speeding and reckless driving.

The murder charges, the release said, stem from the “gross disregard of the extreme risk she posted to others by her repeated and sustained reckless driving, and additionally, by traveling at such an extreme speed when numerous other vehicles were in the crash area.”

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