A 21-year-old Telford man has been charged with homicide by vehicle DUI for allegedly plowing his 1995 Toyota into the side of a Harleysville Pike home, killing a sleeping 86-year-old woman, the Montco DA's office announced.
Joseph Bezanis, 21, of Telford Township, reportedly went off-road and drove at speeds averaging 83 miles per hour over suburban lawns on the night of April 5 before crashing into the bedroom of Marianne Lambert, 86, killing her. Bezanis was later found to have a blood-alcohol content of .172 and tested positive for THC, prosecutors said.
“The defendant turned his vehicle into a lethal weapon that killed a grandmother as she was sleeping in her bed," Montco DA Kevin Steele said in a statement. "His actions have left a family without a matriarch and have forever affected their feelings of safety in their own home.”
Bezanis reportedly admitted to police he had been at Cheers & Beers Bar in Telford prior to the crash, where surveillance cameras caught him drinking at least three beers and a shot. The crash occurred just before midnight on April 5, when, while driving on Harleysville Pike, which has a speed limit of 40 miles per hour, he allegedly hit the curb, then a mailbox, then hooked in through a driveway into the lawns along the pike, according to police.
According to a police report, there was no evidence of braking or that the driver attempted to stop at the crash scene or of any mechanical problems with the vehicle. They say Bezanis' vehicle traveled for 539 feet across four lawns and reached an average speed of 83 MPH before it hit a section of raised lawn and went airborne for 21 feet before crashing into the wall of Lambert's bedroom.
According to the police report, the impact when the car struck the house around 12:02 a.m. ripped through the foundations and wall, throwing everything across the room, including the victim and her bed, and crushing her to death against the interior wall, according to prosecutors. She was pronounced dead at the scene. Five other occupants of the home were reportedly unharmed.
No defense attorney for Bezanis could be reached for comment. His preliminary hearing is scheduled for April 30.