Former sergeant to stand trial for fatal crash

A former Phil­adelphia po­lice ser­geant has been ordered to stand tri­al on hom­icide and man­slaughter charges in con­nec­tion with an al­leged drunk­en-driv­ing crash that claimed the life of a Fishtown fath­er of four last Septem­ber.

Dur­ing Thomas Win­kis’ pre­lim­in­ary hear­ing last Wed­nes­day, a wit­ness test­i­fied that the of­ficer drank nu­mer­ous beers and shots with a friend at a North­east bar on the night of Sept. 14 be­fore leav­ing with the friend and driv­ing his Dodge Chal­lenger at a high speed south on State Road. The car struck a Ford van at the Ash­burn­er Street in­ter­sec­tion, killing the oth­er driver, Dav­id H. Far­ries, 55.

An ac­ci­dent re­con­struc­tion­ist, Of­ficer Wil­li­am Lack­man, test­i­fied that an event (crash) data re­cord­er in­side Win­kis’ car meas­ured the vehicle’s speed at 101.5 mph at the time of im­pact. The speed lim­it on State Road is 35. Win­kis’ blood-al­co­hol con­tent was meas­ured at 0.107, ac­cord­ing to testi­mony. The leg­al threshold for drunk­en driv­ing is 0.08.

“A friend test­i­fied that he had a num­ber of bottled beers and two-and-a-half shots of Jam­is­on. It can add up fairly quickly, and he was (at the bar) for four hours,” said As­sist­ant Dis­trict At­tor­ney Thomas Lipscomb.

Win­kis, 46, and his friend were wear­ing seat­belts, and their pro­tect­ive airbags de­ployed. They were not ser­i­ously in­jured.

The car struck the driver’s side of the van, eject­ing Far­ries and leav­ing a 2-foot-deep in­dent­a­tion, the pro­sec­utor said. The crash sparked a fire. Far­ries, who was not wear­ing a seat­belt, suffered head in­jur­ies and died three days later at a loc­al hos­pit­al. There were no pas­sen­gers in the van.

Win­kis’ at­tor­ney, For­tu­nato N. Perri Jr., ques­tioned the re­li­ab­il­ity of the Chal­lenger’s data re­cord­er, not­ing that it be­came sat­ur­ated with wa­ter when fire­fight­ers doused the burn­ing wreck­age.

“It took a few days to dry it out,” Perri said.

Also, the de­fense at­tor­ney ar­gued that Far­ries, who was trav­el­ing east­bound on Ash­burn­er, didn’t stop for a flash­ing red light at the in­ter­sec­tion, while Win­kis had the right of way with a flash­ing yel­low on State Road.

“It’s ob­vi­ously a sad, tra­gic set of cir­cum­stances for every­one in­volved,” Perri said.

Lipscomb dis­puted the claim that Far­ries failed to yield.

“There’s noth­ing defin­it­ive wheth­er the de­cedent stopped for the light,” the pro­sec­utor said.

Win­kis was hos­pit­al­ized for a broken wrist. Upon his ar­rest, he was sus­pen­ded, then fired by the Po­lice De­part­ment. He had worked on the Po­lice Headquar­ters staff.

Mu­ni­cip­al Court Judge Kar­en Y. Sim­mons ordered Win­kis to stand tri­al for in­vol­un­tary man­slaughter, hom­icide by vehicle while DUI, hom­icide by vehicle, DUI and reck­less en­dan­ger­ment. He re­mains free hav­ing pos­ted 10 per­cent of $50,000 bail. A tri­al date has not been set. ••

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