SWOYERSVILLE -- A man in Luzerne County has been arrested on vehicular homicide and drunk driving charges for a deadly crash earlier this year.
John Payne of Luzerne is charged with the death of his passenger back in January. This is the sixth time he's been charged with DUI-related offenses.
“Are you sorry about what happened?”
“I most certainly am," Payne apologized for his actions shortly after being arraigned on vehicular homicide and drunk driving charges.
Investigators say Payne's blood-alcohol level was three times the legal limit when he crashed his truck in the early morning hours of January 3 in Pringle.
His passenger, Kevin Sendrick of Swoyersville, was killed at the scene. For Sendrick`s brother and sister, the pain of his loss has been overwhelming.
“Very hard. Very, very hard,” said Brian Sendrick. “We miss him so bad, every, every day. I live in his home here now and it`s so hard to know he`s gone.”
Now, hearing that investigators say this is Payne`s sixth DUI arrest since 1989, the siblings want to know how he still had a driver's license.
“It should have been stopped after his third or fourth,” said Maureen Schoonover. “I cannot understand that he has gotten six of them. I cannot understand that because my brother would still be here today.”
“You think he would have stopped, the first one, but he didn`t,” said Brian. “It`s unbelievable. Now he has a homicide charge against him.”
According to court documents, Payne`s last DUI conviction was in 2007.
“Unfortunately he`s been punished under the law previously and actually this time was driving with a valid driver`s license, so even his suspension had expired because it`s a maximum of 18 months and his prior offense was 2007,” said Assistant Luzerne County District Attorney Sam Sanguedolce.
Sanguedolce says prosecutors can only enforce what the law lays out. However, he says this deadly crash could have been avoided.
“You see someone in your family has a problem. It`s important to get them help. In this case, this is now a sixth offense of driving under the influence. Clearly it`s a problem and now it`s taken someone`s life,” said Sanguedolce.
The district attorney's office said because Payne's 2007 DUI conviction falls within a 10-year timeframe of this arrest, Payne could face a maximum of 10 years in prison.