BERWICK, Pa. (AP) — One person was killed and another 17 people injured when a vehicle struck a crowd gathered at a Pennsylvania bar for a fundraiser for victims of a house fire that killed 10 earlier this month; the man police say was the driver was arrested shortly afterward in the beating death of his mother nearby.
The crash occurred at about 6:15 p.m. Saturday outside the Intoxicology Department bar in Berwick, which had been scheduled to hold an all-day fundraising event to benefit victims of the Aug. 5 blaze, that killed seven adults and three children in Nescopeck.
Pennsylvania State Police identified the driver as 24-year-old Adrian Oswaldo Sura Reyes of Nescopeck. He was arraigned early Sunday morning on two counts of criminal homicide.
Shortly after the crash was reported, troopers were called about a man “physically assaulting” a woman less than a mile away in Nescopeck. Troopers arrived to find that Sura Reyes had been arrested by local police and a woman was dead.
Luzerne County Coroner Francis Hacken confirmed Sunday that the victim, Rosa D. Reyes, 56, of Nescopeck — dead of multiple traumatic injuries after being struck by a vehicle and then assaulted with a hammer — was the mother of suspect Sura Reyes.
Geisinger Medical Center said it received 15 patients after the crash, and five remained in critical condition while three were listed in fair condition, a hospital spokesperson said Sunday morning. Seven patients had been treated at hospitals and released.
Trooper Anthony Petroski III told reporters at a midnight news conference that Sura Reyes was not currently a suspect in the fire, the cause of which remains under investigation.
“This is a complete tragedy in a community where there’s already been tragedy,” Petroski said. “We are going to do our job to the best of our abilities to conduct a thorough investigation not only for the families but the community members. They’re already hurting.”
Sura Reyes was denied bail and remained in Columbia County prison pending an Aug. 29 preliminary hearing. Wilkes-Barre newspapers reported that he said only “Sorry” in response to reporters’ questions as he was taken from Shickshinny police station. It wasn’t immediately clear whether he had a lawyer to comment on his behalf.
The first funerals for victims of the fire were held Friday, and more were scheduled for Sunday and Monday.
The bar called the events an “absolute tragedy” and said on its Facebook page that they will be closed until further notice and would like privacy “while we grieve add try to process the events that occurred.”