Bristol Twp Man Sentenced to 19 to 39 Years for Fatal DUI Crash that Killed Two & Seriously Injured 2 others
A Bristol Township man will spend at least 19.5 years in state prison for a high-speed drunk driving crash that killed two people and seriously injured two others on I-95 in December of 2019.
Kevin R. Peters, of Bristol Township, was convicted by a Bucks County jury last month of two counts each of third-degree murder, involuntary manslaughter, homicide by vehicle while DUI, homicide by vehicle, aggravated assault by vehicle while DUI, aggravated assault by vehicle, aggravated assault and recklessly endangering another person.
Common Pleas Judge Diane E. Gibbons also found Peters guilty of two counts of driving under the influence and summary offenses of following too closely, reckless driving, disregarding a traffic lane and driving at an unsafe speed.
On Friday, Gibbons heard written and oral victim impact statements from the father of 20-year-old Juan Jose Tavarez-Santelises, Juan Alberto Tavarez, 47, who also suffered permanent injuries in the fiery wreck, and viewed photos of Claribel Dominguez, 35, one with her two young children who are now left without a mother. Through an interpreter, Juan Alberto Tavarez recalled the horror of seeing the smoke and fire billowing from their minivan and knowing his son and Dominguez were both still inside.
“To see your son die, to see your son in the middle of all that fire, it was horrible,” he said.
In court, Deputy District Attorney David A. Keightly Jr. played a video showing Tavarez-Santelises playing the tambora, a Dominican drum, which is one of the many instruments he had mastered in his young life.
His father said his son left behind “a million dreams and unaccomplished goals.”
Before the sentence was handed down, Keightly told Judge Gibbons that everything about Peters’ actions the night of Dec. 6, 2019, was egregious, including his level of intoxication, the speed he was driving, the impact of the crash, and turning down numerous alternate methods of transportation.
Gibbons gave Peters 7 ½ to 15 years on each of the third-degree murder convictions, 2 to 4 years on each of the aggravated assault convictions, and 3 to 6 months on each of the Recklessly Endangering Another Person convictions, all running consecutive, for a total of 19 ½ to 39 years in state prison.
The Recklessly Endangering charges accounted for two other drivers who Peters nearly collided with while driving northbound near the Newtown-Yardley Exit, about 15 minutes before the crash.
Peters was driving a Mazda CX-5 SUV at least 106 mph when he rear-ended a minivan around 1 a.m. on Dec. 6, 2019 in the southbound lane of Interstate 95 in Bristol Township, causing the minivan to veer off the roadway into the shoulder where it collided with the concrete barrier.
There, the car burst into flames, killing Tavarez-Santelises and Dominguez, who were in the backseat and unable to get out. The driver and front passenger, the father and brother of the male victim, each suffered severe burns and injuries but managed to escape with their lives.
Data from the Mazda’s onboard computer showed Peters was traveling at a speed of at least 106 mph in the seconds just prior to the crash. The data also showed Peters applied the brake no more than 4/10 of a second prior to impact and the throttle on his SUV was at 85 percent of full capacity, one second prior to impact.
The victims, who are from Philadelphia, were on their way home from work. The investigation found that Peters had been drinking at a work function in Philadelphia that began at 5 p.m. and later headed to a bar.
He testified he was offered a ride home from Philadelphia but opted to drive home. A blood draw performed two hours after the crash indicated Peters had a blood-alcohol concentration of at least .151 while driving.
This case was investigated by Pennsylvania State Police and was prosecuted by Deputy District Attorney David A. Keightly Jr.