Man’s Sixth DUI Leads To Deadly Crash

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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.


  • Ford

    In West VA, there is a requirement to have a breathalizer installed in your vehicle prohibiting the vehicle from turning on if intoxicated. Might be something PA should look into after the 1st offense. Knew a guy that had to use one cause he had a DUI while in college. Last I knew he was still using it after 5 years, cause he had moved out of state and there was some legality of that. Might be worth considering. I know he was soo embarrassed that I never saw him with a drink if he was going to be driving.

  • BZ22

    Just read the other day that DUI arrests are much lower than previous years! Unfortunately, the main way they catch them these days is because of accidents with innocent victims. Too many DUI’s get a slap on the wrist, a fine and sent on their way!

  • Dee Dee Ramone

    They probably let him back on the road because the township/county/state/whatever needed the fine revenue. Typically though irresponsible types like this don’t pay their fines and end up locked up.

  • h

    It’s not the families fault, maybe they tried, do not blame the family, you can only do so much for someone.

    • Frank Rizzo

      We really need to expand the death penalty to all sorts of crimes. Drug dealers, animal abusers, child molesters, 6 dui’s…..

  • Ford

    The state really does need to buckle down on these types of drivers. Not saying that someone can’t make a mistake or not realize that they have had just to many to drive, but six is ridiculous. Three should be the limit, cause by then you should know that you’ve had to many and is more than enough fair warning. After that maybe their should be mandatory jail time or community service along with revoking of license for 5 yrs, and professional help. Then if caught with a suspended license maybe a 5yr jail/community service term.

    • MisterPL

      In South Carolina, parents face mandatory jail time for missing child support payments.

      Here, we’ve got a guy who’s not only a danger to himself but others and yet stayed on the road by paying fines.

      Clearly it’s about the money UNTIL someone dies.

  • jenny

    I can’t call him an alcoholic, but he sure well fits the description. Until he makes that decision to give it up, he could very well do this all over again the day he gets out of jail.

  • Jason

    It should be that you lose your license completely after the second or third offense, but even then, people then drive without a license and cause worse damage. This man should have had to go through treatment…AA meetings…because he apparently has personal issues, as with most people who drink a lot…I used to be one of those people who drank problems away, but I got over it after a long battle…it’s hard for some and easy for others, but it’s something that should be looked at rather than extremely harsh punishments. This could have been prevented if family stepped in and helped him out.

  • Rebecca

    How about a lifetime loss of license after the second offense? Or at least the third? But I don’t think it would matter, as a piece of plastic isn’t going to stop someone from driving a car. How sad for the victim’s family.

  • John

    Solution court systems:
    1st DUI: 1 month Jail
    2nd DUI: 6 month Jail
    3rd DUI: 5 yr Jail ( licence suspended 10yrs)

    Idk maybe stiffer penalties for these drunks who have no regard for human life???? 6 DUI’s is that a joke???? Who could of saw this coming after the 3rd 4th 5th offense?

  • billy bob

    There should be no term limits or redeisignated time lines for accumulative D.U.I.s. In the wake of the first D.U.I. conviction, the culprit should forfeit his/her license privledges for one annum, be mandated to reciprocate absolute financial restitution to all parties involved, including the judicial/penal system, and be placed under one year of house arrest. If employment is applicable, then the culprit should be responsible to obtain transportation via another source, while being required to purchase a dashcam, with the said dashcam facing the culprit during transportation periods to and from place of employment. If a fatality occured during the first infringement, then the convicted should have their driving privledges banned for life, be mandated to reciprocate absolute financial restitution and be sentenced to life in prison, without the possiblity of parole. Same applies for a second and final D.U.I. conviction, fatal or nonfatal.

    • billy bob

      redesignated. LOL. If you take a life via a D.U.I., then you shouldn’t enjoy yours in a free society, only behind bars for the rest of your days. Might seem harsh, but still not fair enough. In all reality and justification, if you take a life, because of your selfishness, carelessness, greed, pompous attitude, privledged demeanor, arrogance and disregard for human life, property and our well known laws, then your life should be extinguished, ASAP. Then justice, along with accountability, would be served, accordingly and swiftly, without compromise.

  • Swampdonkey

    And you want to legalize dope?
    I knew John at one point in my life and he was a very good man,
    i also know The victims brother or cousin , good decent values are long gone
    society has failed these 2 men. Society has melted beyond the pot.
    Too many old friends too many lives destroyed.
    If it takes a village what does the village live for Billary ?
    Lets bring back American Jobs so men have a place in life
    to be. I f you are young you know not how the area used to have factory jobs around every corner.
    They are now in India,China etc. John AND Kevin i pray for you both.

    • Dee Dee Ramone

      Yes I do want to legalize dope. It’s called using it responsibly, just like everything else in the world. Self control and responsibility. A guy like this at DUI number six, yes, he should have had his license revoked long ago.

      • Swampdonkey

        dee Dee i thought smoking kills and it stinks up the place ?
        How many deaths due to a few drinks then getting stoned out of ones gord ?
        You think stoned peeps are perfect drivers? Another thing is don’t kids deserve parents
        not to be on the stuff? You all no see the pitiful existence that leads to?

  • billy bob

    Not only is the aforementioned culprit to blame, but so is the incompetent Commonwealth judicial system. SHAME ON YOU, PA lawmakers and lenient judges. You all should be fired, ASAP, losers.

  • Timothy Tingley

    I’m doing this ,were gonna call it suber. I want AA and MADD on board. I want to talk to the Local bar owners and web talent about making this happen, let’s take responsibility for our obscene d.u.i. Rates and do something more than complain. We can post ads in every bar. WE are the only ones that can stop deadly alcohol related accidents…

    • Huh?

      While you’re at it, maybe you could push for legislation to make it illegal for criminals and the insane to have firearms. Far too many shootings. Instead, the police could drive them to a local shooting range when they have the urge to shoot their guns and they could put holes in paper instead of people. And what about jaywalkers? If only the street departments would paint more crosswalks there would be fewer jaywalkers.

  • Timothy Tingley

    This man was allowed to have a license because we made our safety on the road negotiable,and allow cops and courts to dictate what is responsible. We as citizens of Lackawanna and luzerne counties have to decide this risky behavior is properly watched over by more responsible parties. I would love for sober citizens to give one night a month where they drive people home from bars. Show these people how important it is to be sober when driving.bars and the public could set it up. When someone is drunk,the bartender could post the location like über , than sober volunteers in the area could drive the person home. It could only help. I’m so sick of alcohol and methamphetamine along with prescription drugs and heroin destroying everyone’s family!!!!

    • DanTheHobbit

      Aye, good idea. Here in Japan, there’s a taxi service that will take you home and have another driver bring your vehicle back, too. It’s sometimes cheaper than regular cab services, in part because it displays a reverence for the law and basic social responsibility.

      • MisterPL

        Unless they’re giving drunks a ride to AA meetings, it’s just one more way Japan enables alcoholism. No thanks.

      • DanTheHobbit

        MISTERPL, perhaps I should have clarified that Japan also has a zero tolerance law for BAC when operating any mode of transportation. This extends not only to automobiles but also bicycles. Japan may not condemn alcohol in whatever way you prefer, but the policies in place do intend to protect the general public, and the infrastructure adheres the best it can. My comments aside, in what other ways does Japan enable alcoholism? Furthermore, can you contribute to this conversation in a meaningful manner?

  • Timothy Tingley

    This is why America needs to change from the stupidity and ignorance of alcohol consumption and abuse and move the culture to recreational cannabis. Alcohol is the most addictive and disgusting drug. I would like to see every bar registered with a safe ride home program as a condition of licensing. Why not? Let’s see how quickly these lawyers in the legislature would kill the cash cow that dwi is for luzerne and Lackawanna county court systems and dirtbag lawyer circuit…

    • Unbelievable

      Yeah, exchange one intoxicant for another. Brilliant idea. This way when the driver kills someone they can just sit there and giggle about it.
      Fight any attempt to legalize marihuana for anything other than strictly controlled medical reasons!

      • Huh?

        Right on, Un. “stupidity and ignorance of alcohol consumption” Gee, I never thought of myself as stupid or ignorant (MBA, work for a Fortune 500 company) but I guess by your definition Tim anyone that has a nip of that evil liquid is an instant drunk and danger to society, unlike all the productive pot-heads out there. “I would like to see every bar registered with a safe ride home program”. So what about all the high dopers, do they get a free pass? You’ve fried too many good brain cells already my good man. Keep toking though, I’m getting a good laugh out of your ‘logic’, dude.

  • Reuben

    Of course this is the individual’s fault but I also hold the legal system highly responsible for this incident. How many times does it take for the law to deny this person the privilege to have a driver’s license? What if he didn’t kill someone this time, would he be given another chance? It shouldn’t have to take a life to get a person like this off of our roads.

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