UPDATE: Driver Charged In Wreck That Killed Infant

LENOX TOWNSHIP — A driver accused of causing a car crash that killed a 6-month-old girl in Susquehanna County turned himself in on Tuesday.

Zachary Larue, 21, of Kingsley was led into court in handcuffs after turning himself in.

After a seven-month investigation, state police say they had enough evidence to file charges in the crash that killed 6-month-old Lainey Johnson last year.

The crash happened on September 2, 2013 in Lenox Township, Susquehanna County.

The Susquehanna County district attorney said they took their time investigating this case.

“I’ve met with the victim’s family and every loss of life is terribly, but to lose something so previous as a child..,” Susquehanna County District Attorney Jason Legg said.

After reconstructing the crash, troopers say they determined that Larue was traveling between 71 and 73 miles an hour along a portion of Route 92.

The posted speed limit along the road in Lennox Township is 55 miles per hour.

At the time of the crash, police say Larue was on probation for a prior DUI charge.

State police say Larue lost control where the road had a curve and hit the car that Lainey Johnson and her mother were traveling in along with another vehicle.

The child died of her injuries a few days later. Lindsay Johnson, the mother, suffered a hip fracture, sacral fracture, and a ruptured spleen. Police said she had three surgeries following the crash.

“My client feels terrible regret that is involved in this case. But, quite frankly, I think it was an accident,” defense attorney Paul Ackourey said.

A memorial with flowers and a cross sit at the crash site.

Friends of the Johnson family say these last few months have been tough on everyone.

“We’ve known the family for a number of years so it was very difficult to have that happen to our community and it affected everybody,” family friend Suzanne Schwalm said.

Schwalm is the owner of Schwalm’s Deli and More, a few miles from where the crash happened. Her kids grew up with the victim’s family. She’s relieved to hear of Larue’s arrest and hopes this helps the Johnson family.

“I think it was hard to know that he wasn’t in custody after causing something like this. Maybe it will give some peace of mind to the family that there will be some retribution,” Schwalm said.

Larue is free after posting 10 percent of his $75,000 cash bail.

He’s due back in court in a few weeks for his preliminary hearing.

50 comments

  • Love for Lainey

    All of u r saying he wasn’t drinking . Then y did his passenger give a statement saying he was drinking and y did he run to Wilson in NY because he knew it would be difficult to get results across state lines and refused a drug and alcohol test!! It will be used against him!

  • Beth Myers

    I agree that there will never be a good enough punishment because, while he lived his life a mother and father celebrated a first birthday with no birthday girl a family had a Christmas with no baby’s first Christmas. Well is that fare to them.

  • DallasMom

    21 years ago I buried my Mom who was a victim of a tragic motor vehicle accident where she was hit head on by a truck going through a red light. He was unfamiliar with the area and the accident happened. It altered the life of my whole family forever. Having said that, it was an accident. No alcohol or drugs were involved, he had no previous record of any kind. In some weird sort of way there is comfort knowing that it was just the chaos of the universe. However, when you have a young man who has had so much past trouble, driving recklessly again, one cannot help but think this whole thing should never have happened, totally avoidable. So now, there is a child gone, a young Mom disabled forever, a family whose hearts will be broken forever and there needs to be consequences for his actions. It is painful to read anyone defending this guy. When you feel like doing that, picture that little baby.

  • Ncpierman Timothy Taramelli

    it is funny how when people are faceing life changeing events such as jail find religion but with that said it is just to make them look better in the eyes of the courts just as a prisoner doing time finds religion to make parole then get out and go back to there old ways or an dunk or druggie finds god to look better in the eyes of the courts so they get less time or no time.

  • A Friend.

    Unfortunately, the way his punishment looks so far…. he will be behind bars for years. Ordering up brew-ha-has and living his life. At least we know where he can be found in case we want to say “hello.” VF?

  • E

    Just another alcoholic who kills someone while drunk and then runs away until he sobers up so he can claim that he wan’t drinking at the time of his offense. Are we really pretending that he was sober at the time of the accident? Typical NEPA local acting like locals do. Can’t wait to move out of this shi**ole.

    • just me

      I repeat:
      He was booked with a ton of charges. None of them included drinking and driving nor did he flee the scene. Police report shows no drugs or alcohol were a factor. Just because he had a prior DUI doesn’t make it okay for people to avoid the facts.

      As for typical NEPA locals; I have lived in a few states and I have to say for you to generalize a single area makes me scared for you because you have DUI recipients, parolees, pedophiles, racists extremists (the list goes on) everywhere. NEPA and it’s ‘locals’ are not to blame for your ignorance. Good riddance; we don’t need or want any more hate in the area.

      • reality

        You say full of people on parole? Wasn’t he as well? Quit guarding your baby and let him pay for the mistake that crippled a family a d everyone surrounding them as well. So easy for you to point the blame else where. Maybe everyone wouldn’t of thought he was drinking if he didn’t have a previous dui or post on fb “I don’t know how the hell I got home I was so drunk”. He scrutinized himself especially after this incident. I remember seeing plenty of post on fb him thanking everyone for worrying about him blah blah. And everyone knows he lived life thinking he was untouchable. Unfortunately it had to be something so devastating to someone other then him as it took maybe a week out of jail and he was back to the bar scene. I’d blame some on the parent’s. Mean you raised him on partying and playing a friend role other then parent role. Who smokes weed with their kid’s? So maybe some of the reality was your ‘friend like parenting”. Welcome to the oh so real world we live in. It’s not gonna get easier, people will not forget some may forgive but few will find ultimate peace even after justice is served. I pray for the Johnson’s and don’t know what I would do or even say if that was my little girl.

      • just me

        Lol. Clearly you have the wrong impression on who I am. You are assuming yet again. I still believe jail is necessary; my point is that he does not deserve to die nor was he drunk or did he flee; “liberal laws” – dead give away on the type of person you are while you have no clue who I am. If you stuck to the facts I would respect your point of view. You are nothing but a judgemental insinuater and with your mention of Zach’s FB you are clearly a dishonest family member or a fake friend. Those are your Devils to deal with so reflect before judging. Nothing with bring the Johnson family any relief and that is the saddest part. All I have asked is people get facts before damning someone else to die.

      • just me

        My apologies as this prior response was for Reality & Eye in the sky. Pardon me for not distinguishing responses.

      • reality

        Fake friend? We weren’t friend’s in reality over fb yes as much many were. I never said he deserves death, he deserves much more then you think he does. But it’s nice to see a no reply on your parenting. I mean everyone has been to a ‘larue’ party. All underage.

      • just me

        How can you assume you know what I think his sentence should be? I would never dare try to imagine I know what a reasonable sentence for this wreckless accident to be. Nor will I try. I have seen tens to hundreds of posts about how he deserves to die because he had a prior DUI. And I assure you my children who are 11 and 5 have never attended a ‘Larue’ party nor have I or most of my closest friends as Zach’s circle of friends are about 15 yrs my junior. And no, lol I am not a person who has ANYONE I don’t like on my FB friends list. They are not my friends for a reason and I am not a fake person or one who sugar coats the truth on how I feel. I do not add or creep merely for the sake of popularity or drama involvement. I am far different from many tho and I am okay with that. Enjoy your day.

  • Justice for Lainey

    I don’t know anyone in this story personally but I believe this little girl and her family deserve justice for what happened. There are different kind of accidents where you act recklessly and put yourself and danger and then there are ones that irreparably and horrifically change the lives of an entire family and for that there must be consequences. This guy was no angel and certainly no stranger to the court system according to public record. I did check my facts and he has been in and out of court since 2011 and who knows about before that because he was a minor before that. He had a DUI conviction and drug possession as well a slew of traffic violations. He needs to learn that there are real consequences for one’s actions beyond just feeling sorry.

  • anonymus

    I personally believe that everyone needs to stop being so hard on this guy. He’s just a kid, and yes, kids make mistakes, as do adults. Am I saying what he did was right or okay? Absolutely not. But, I do know that he would never have intentionally caused harm or injury to anyone, but especially hot an infant. He is a good guy overall. He made bad choices, but everyone makes bad decisions from time to time. I can guarantee that the guilt he feels and will feel for the rest of his life will be far more punishment than spending time in prison. Give the guy a break and just leave his personal life to him and his family. You yourself do not know the facts. You cannot rely solely on what you read in the paper or hear on the news. Whether or not he goes to church doesn’t mean anything. He can still ask God for forgiveness, and it is his God-given right to do so. It doesn’t mean that he asked God for forgiveness and all is right in the world, and I’m sure that thought never even crossed his mind. While I cannot speak on anyones behalf, I do feel such sorrow for the Johnson family and I very much believe that they never even considered that he intentionally meant to hurt this little child. His regret will never make up for their loss, but he honestly made a mistake. A life-changing mistake that he can never ever take back or make up for.

    • frank judge

      this guy was speeding. he broke the law. also he is a 21 yr. old king baby that needs to grow up. i want to correct his attorney, it’s not an accident, it was vehicular homicide. hate how this guy is buttering up the crime. hope he gets top bunk.

    • JP

      He may not have meant to do it intentionally but through his actions, he did not care either. And yes, we all have done stupid things in our lives but at what point is enough enough and time to face up to it. Going to church does not make a good person. And frankly, he does deserve the same fate. He made a choice to get in that car and drive, the little girl he killed did not have that luxury. The answer is not to keep putting these people in jail, I think society has paid enough for HIS actions. That is not ignorance, it is common sense which is sorely lacking anymore.

    • Ncpierman Timothy Taramelli

      yes people make mistakes in life and age is no excuse this is not his FIRST time but now maybe it will be his last,jail is where he belongs to have plenty of time to think about what he has done.
      this little child that died has no hope of having a life because of him so why in the world should he.
      way to many times we see people getting away with d.u.i driveing 9 ten times a year ,make them pay the first time HARD and it wouldnt happen a second time.
      my heart goes out for the parents of this lost angel and i hope and pray our courts make the person responsible PAY dearly.

      • anonymous

        Why is everyone saying that Zach was under the influence? Police records show that speed and carelessness were the main factors in this ACCIDENT. How can you all sit around and run your mouths if you ddon’t even know the facts. Were any of you riding in the car with him? Zach is a good guy, and like it or not everyone make mistakes. It was his mistake to drive too fast and he inadvertently caused an irreversible accident. He doesn’t deserve the same fate as the innocent child but he also does not deserve to get off scott-free, either. Just imagine for one second that this was your child that everyone was bashing and saying deserves to be put to death. Wouldn’t you be the first person to stand up and defend your loved one?

    • a concerned driver

      21 is no longer a kid. When do you stop just using making mistakes as an excuse. everyone needs to be held accountable for their mistakes. yes if it this was his first mistake maybe but second, third fourth when does it stop. Everyone deserves to be forgiven by god yes it is true. His family should stand by his side but standing by his side and making excusing for him are two differant things. The court will deciede and what ever they choose we will have to live with. Stand by your children but make them be accountable for their actions. I do not believe he intendent to kill anyone but when you do you need to look inside yourself and say what have I been doing.

      E

  • reality

    He’s been seen at serveral bar’s. Left under the influence, still felt invincible just like everyone with a big ego does. He had a license at the time that was in the process of suspension for a dui. Potholes? We usually go slower if your not aware or road conditions are poor. Blame penndot for taking a life because some young kid in a srt10 sport pick up was speeding and lost control. God is our ultimate judge. I hope he finds peace as I know him also, which is why this is being said. Life’s abig oobstacle. But doesn’t mean you gotta live it like we can’t hurt ourselves or someone else. These comments are generated because everyone knows how he was. You think just some random person whowas just speeding and made a simple mistake would have these same comments? Mean I’m talking random without a dui and previous history or reckless driving. And now he’s found god? Perfect time to need him when your long road of never having to pay a consequence has finally ended.

  • a concerned driver

    I don’t understand all of this. They also said he got a speeding ticket in Dec. after the accident doesn’t seem like he learned how to slow down. I do understand that family will support him. People have the right to think what they want. BUt just remember what would you think if it was your child and wife who were in the accident and lost your child. Everyone finds god when they need to. I hope he can learn a lesson but he does need to go to jail. I am haveing a hard time feeling sorry for him only for the other family. Time will also tell how much he has learned.

    • just me

      He was booked with a ton of charges. None of them included drinking and driving nor did he flee the scene. Police report shows no drugs or alcohol were a factor. Just because he had a prior DUI doesn’t make it okay for people to avoid the facts.

      • Eye in the Sky

        He requested and was strategically taken across state lines to a hospital and was protected by NY’s liberal laws. Scranton technically is just as close as Johnson City NY. If it weren’t for that there would be additional charges. Instead of lawyering up and spending 75K on bail perhaps the family should have given this money to cover the medical bills that the victims incurred. Just saying……………..

  • just me

    He has always gone to church; but now he has a reason to ask God’s forgiveness. He deserves jail but he too does not deserve to die as I have seen so many post. I am tired of the hate and ignorance in society these days. I sincerely wish people more compassion and love in their hearts. I don’t support his mistakes; but I also do not support the lies being spread. There are facts that are being distorted to get people’s hate across. I feel sorry for both families as they have both lost a child in many respects. I still mourned for the little girl lost and lit a candle in her name NEVER spewing so much hate and judgement. Sad world.

  • Skeptic

    While I agree that the situation is sad, and I’m by no means defending the guy… you all need to remember that bail IS NOT a punishment. As an American citizen, he is entitled to his day in court and cannot be punished until he is convicted. Bail is a means to secure the likelihood that the accused will return to court to face his/her charge. In cases in which it is determined more likely that the accused will flee rather than return to court (such as capital cases), bail is not provided. If he isn’t a flight risk, the bail amount given is usually sufficient enough to convince him and his financial backers to assure that he faces his charges in court. You may not like it in an emotional case like this, but if you’re ever accused of a serious crime, you’ll want your rights preserved too. This country has taken away the civil rights of far too many innocent people due to hasty prosecution and emotional mob mentality. Lets make sure it’s done right, EVERY time, so the right person gets convicted and stays convicted.

    • Eye in the Sky

      I agree with you for the most part. The concern I have is for public safety. He had a DUI in 2012 and a traffic violation since this accident. His track record is not good. A witness statement from a convenience store described his demeanor as spaced out and stated that he was driving erractically when he left the parking lot. He’s demonstrated that he just doesn’t get it. Oh and then there are the narcissistic Facebook comments that he posted and were quickly deleted. In those comments he basically said “What about me? I was injured in the accident too”. Doesn’t sound like someone I want to operate a motor vehicle any time soon or ever.

  • Doesn't matter

    That’s the problem with news . Only states some of facts .
    This could have been you that had an accident and someone passed away . Easy to point the finger when not you ! I dodge potholes every day that make me go into other areas of roads – maybe penn dot should take care of roads so driving a vehicle is safe – these roads now are far from safe !

  • Doesn't matter

    A sad and tragic accident that could of happened to anyone that gets behind a wheel . Police report says he was not under influence of drugs / alcohol when accident occurred . Regardless a very sad situation .

  • Greg W

    people need to stay out of situations which you personally were not involved in. Mind your own business and do not judge anyone. Let the court and legal system sort out the facts. I am most certain this guy made bad choices as most people do in their lives. I would venture a guess he did not set out to kill anyone. This man needs professional help and placing him in jail does not help anyone and not too mention YOU the tax payer will end up with the bill for placing him in jail. This is very sad all around. God bless the little baby who lost her life. My God I read these comments and some of you are making this guy out to be a serial killer and he clearly is not. Drinking,Driving without a license is clearly wrong and certainly he broke the law. Some people have issues with alcohol and/or substance abuse. Prison is not the answer to help the these people. Most all of – do not be so quick to judge people. Pray for the best for all involved, hopefully they all can have closure to a very unfortunate situation. God bless the family of the little girl and let them have time to heal, be respectful of their need for privacy. Certainly this man needs to be held accountable for his actions and perhaps house arrest with an intense rehab program is more appropriate and let him pay for the House arrest program out his own pocket and not the tax payers.

    • Eye in the Sky

      You make great points, but there is a bit of a problem. We as parents in the community love our kids and want them to be protected from harm. The system failed when Zach was able to operate a vehicle after his DUI. Remember, this arrest was the culmination of a 7 month investigation. We all know what it’s like to be young, wreckless, and most of us have exceeded the speed limit. The difference is we exhibited some common sense and our judgment prevented us from maiming or killing others during this time in our lives. We live in a country of laws, not excuses. Hopefully justice will prevail and he will get a lengthy prison sentence. Then and only then will some of us parents breath a little easier knowing that this guy isn’t coming around the turn ahead of us in our lane, and that we get to tuck our kids into bed another night, not grieve over them as they lay in a closed casket.

  • anonymous

    Even being at the bar drinking a soda will make him look bad to the public. Regardless if he was drinking or not. It opens the door for him to be scrutinized. He is now someone who will be looked at and viewed upon by others and will be analyzed by his every move. His lawyer should have instructed him to maintain a certain image, one that does NOT involve him being seen in bars and being seen driving around. This makes the public view him as someone who isn’t remorseful. He destroyed his own image. And as for being the one who reported him, it was not I. Word gets around when people see something such as a person who killed a baby in an “accident” hanging out at the bar. It gives them an unsettling feeling that justice was not served.
    You say “he has been sober and going to church” so this means he is cleared, he is free of all of his guilt? I say it’s a great thing sobriety and finding your faith but one cannot use them as a get out of jail free card. I do believe he is suffering and so is his family and I feel bad that anyone has to go through this ordeal. But this does not shadow the fact that there is a family suffering from the fact that a future was stolen. A future that unfortunately was never given the chance to flourish. As his friend/family I understand you supporting him but I am neither so I should be given the same understanding in my choice to not support him.

  • annonymous

    you are completely contradicting yourself. youre saying how wrong it is what he did yet saying he should die as well. youre saying killing is wrong but yet he should be killed. seriously do you even think before you speak. those of us defending him actually know him and what really happened and the person he truly is and arent basing it on assumptions like you and the rest of the people are. you are in no position to judge someone just like the rest of us.

  • annonymous

    why does it matter that he was going to bars, he is 21 and legally allowed to if he was off probation. it is not your place to judge someone else and the choices they make. he made a mistake and will now have to face it. this small town you speak of is filled with people who do terrible things, you should focus on yourself and your own family and not him.

    • anonymous

      He didn’t deserve to get bail. He was driving with a suspended license and he was intoxicated. He deserves to sit behind bars for years. Just because you go to church doesn’t mean god will forgive you for all your sins. So hope he gets what he deserves which is to be in jail for years.

  • SLS

    I was wondering thae same things myself!? Where was he all this time, and if he was “on the lam,” since September, where was he, why couldn’t they find him and why is he out on bail? I wonder if they are letting him drive? “Zachary Larue from Kingsley faces homicide by vehicle and other charges for the crash.” Not involuntary manslaughter, or accidental death; but homicide by vehicle…sooooo…yah. and what other charges? drugs? intoxication? driving with a suspended license? what gives here?

  • Becky Upright

    OUTRAGOUS!!! Another station said that he was on probation at the time of the “accident” for a prior DWI!!! ARE YOU KIDDING ME??? Lets let him go so he can kill some other innocent people!! IDIOTS for letting him POST BAIL!!

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