Man Sentenced for Crash That Left Woman in Wheelchair

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POTTSVILLE --- A man was sentenced Tuesday in Schuylkill County for causing a crash that left a woman in a wheelchair.

Jeffery Spare of Hazle Township received one to three years in prison.

In September, he pleaded guilty to aggravated assault and driving with a suspended license.

Authorities say spare hit Janet Smolden's vehicle head on along Route 309 near Tamaqua last year.

The woman from New Ringgold suffered injuries that have confined her to a wheelchair.

Janet Smolden of New Ringgold doesn’t know if she'll ever be able to walk again. The former drama teacher was severely injured in a head-on crash last year.

“I can't make any promises right now because I don't know what it would take for me,” she said.

Jeffrey Spare of Hazle Township caused the head-on crash last year which injured Smolden. He'll spend 12 to 36 months locked up for his crimes.

During his sentencing in court, Spare told the victim that he was sorry. He apologized and said he thinks about the crash every day of his life.

“Put yourself in Janet's shoes. She can't walk; me or somebody has to help her to stand. She can't do anything for herself out of that wheel chair,” said her husband Troy Smolden.

Prosecutors say the day of the crash, Spare didn't have a license.  He lost it because of three DUIs in Luzerne County. Smolden’s family is concerned what may happen once Spare gets out of jail.

“My big concern is that he hurts somebody else. Like the judge said, it's a habitual thing.  What is going to be next, him kill somebody?” Smolded asked.

“I don't think he intentionally did it.  I don't hate the guy, I just hate what he did,” said the victim’s father Henry Paisley.

Smolden hopes one day she'll leave the wheelchair behind for good.


  • bakerst

    What technicality would drop the DUI charges from a serial DD? I hope someone was held accountable for this oversight. 1-3 years for him, yet Janet is serving a life sentence. I hope he serves the full 3 years and spends some time contemplating the pathetic and destructive choices he made. One thing to ruin your own life, something else entirely to almost destroy someone else’s life.

  • Don

    The man devistated Janet’s life. The man was driving drunk, but it was dropped due to a technicality. He has a history of driving drunk. Had a suspended license for driving drunk. And he gets 1-3 years. Incredible.

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