Cruiser Crash Victim Remembered at Memorial

WILLIAMSPORT — Mourners gathered Saturday to remember James Robinson at a local church in Williamsport.

Nearly two weeks after James Robinson lost his life in a collision with a police cruiser on East Third Street, mourners gathered at Bethel AME Church to bid farewell to the man known as “Boomer.”

Harriett Harvey was Robinson’s aunt.

“He didn’t have to leave this world like that. It was a terrible tragedy, we will all miss him. He will be missed,” said Harvey.

The past weeks have been trying for friends and family as they waited for a state police investigation to explain the circumstances leading up to the crash.

John Hernandez, who performs as “Eric Mendosa” is a friend who shared Robinson’s love of music and recorded with him. He says, “I can honestly say I lost my right arm out here, truly not easy for me. I know he is not going to go for all that crying, so I am trying not to cry too much.”

On Wednesday Pennsylvania State Police investigators revealed Williamsport Police Officer Jonathan Deprenda was traveling 88 miles per hour on a street with a speed limit of 35.

“I could not believe it, it just stunned me,” said Harvey.

Robert Lose said, “I was surprised. When I saw it in the newspaper, I started to cry.”

The stretch of East Third Street where the crash happened is lined on one side with businesses and residences, and has a slight curve as it parallels the freeway.

Traffic passes by a sign indicating motorists are entering an “Aggressive Driver Crash Area.”

Police said that Deprenda was on the way to help a rookie officer who had a suspect at gunpoint following a chase in another part of the city when he tried to pass three vehicles and ended up colliding with Robinson’s car, which was turning left.

The impact spun the victim’s car into a vacant house, setting both on fire.

Friends and family are waiting to see if the prosecutors will file charges in the case.

Mendoza said, “I just pray that he never has a badge, gun, nothing, I just pray for that.”

While some mourners believe Deprenda should be charged with a crime, others said that they are unsure and looking to their faith for an answer.

Chris Jett said, “I’m going to let God handle this. The truth will come out, the truth will come out.”

3 comments

  • J.booher

    I don’t get it…cops gotta do there job! This accident was unforeseeable and this officer is being wronged…truly sad for the man who lost his life and prayers for family and friends; but this officer should not be going through this turmoil for trying to do his job! Why is he being put through this? I’m sure he feels bad enough that this man turned into his path and lost his life…but charging this young ‘man’(officer) is just SO wrong!!!!! Those in charge…Disappointing to say the least! You have failed this fine officer who chose this thankless job to protect and serve…why do they ALWAYS feel an example must be made?! I just don’t get this injustice on HIS part! Makes this mom mad!

  • Chris

    It’s sad that this has happened but some of the comments from the mourners were far too critical of the officer. The man did make poor judgement in speed but there was a rookie officer that had a man at gunpoint. A lot could go wrong there of course and he made the decision to speed in order to get there fast. Unfortunately the victim was at the wrong place at the wrong time. In the end he never made it to back up the rookie and a man lost his life. I doubt he’ll lose his job or serve any time but I don’t see him leaving his desk any time soon.

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