The Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office has approved criminal charges against a city police officer in connection with a Sept. 14 auto crash in Holmesburg that claimed a Fishtown man’s life.
Sgt. Thomas Winkis, an aide to Deputy Commissioner Thomas Wright, was to surrender to authorities sometime this week, according to a spokeswoman for the district attorney, Tasha Jamerson. His surrender and formal arraignment were pending on Monday afternoon. Winkis will be charged with driving while under the influence, homicide by vehicle while DUI, involuntary manslaughter and reckless endangerment.
The DA approved the charges on Friday as the Philadelphia Police Department announced the suspension and planned dismissal of Winkis, who was charged administratively by the department with DUI while off-duty, as well as “engaging in any action that constitutes the commission of a felony or misdemeanor.”
The crash occurred at about 11:50 p.m. at State Road and Ashburner Street in Holmesburg. Winkis and a woman passenger were traveling southbound on State Road in a 2012 Dodge Charger, which struck an eastbound 1994 Ford Econoline van being driven by David Farries. The impact ejected Farries from his vehicle, who was injured critically and died on Sept. 17 at Aria Health-Torresdale. He was 55 and survived by four daughters and seven grandchildren.
Winkis suffered nonlife-threatening injuries, was treated at the same hospital and released. Authorities did not report any injuries to Winkis’ passenger.
Winkis had a flashing yellow light at the intersection and Farries a flashing red light, police said. Yet, according to a report published by 6abc.com, accident investigators determined that Winkis was traveling at 101 m.p.h. at the time of impact. His blood-alcohol level was measured at 0.17 percent, in excess of the legal limit of 0.08, the news station reported, citing unidentified sources.
Prior to the announcement of criminal charges, relatives and friends of the victim held a candlelight vigil on Sept. 25 at the intersection while calling for the arrest of Winkis. Relatives also had created a “Justice for David Farries” Facebook page. At the time, the District Attorney’s Office announced that an investigation of the case was in progress.
The accident was the second tragedy involving the Winkis family within days. Winkis’ former wife and fellow police officer, Michelle Winkis, died on Sept. 7 days after collapsing from a brain aneurysm while on duty. Friends hosted a fundraiser for the couple’s children on Sept. 12. ••