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Lansdowne man arrested for homicide by vehicle while driving under the influence

DATE:  Feb. 24, 2014
CONTACT PERSON: Emily H. Harris- 610.891.4163

Delaware County District Attorney Jack Whelan and Clifton Heights Police Chief Tim Rockenbach announced the arrest of Jonathan I. Vanderhorst, 45, (DOB: 07/08/1968) of the 300 block of Windermere Avenue, for homicide by vehicle while driving under the influence and other related charges. The charges stem from the January 12 vehicular accident at the 500 block of Baltimore Pike in Clifton Heights that led to the death of Dante DeSimone, 18, and critically injured another.

On Sunday, January 12, 2014, at approximately 9:20 pm, a vehicle crash occurred at 531 West Baltimore Pike in the borough of Clifton Heights.  Jonathan Vanderhorst was driving a Ford Taurus sedan traveling eastbound on Baltimore Pike. He stopped to make a left turn into the McDonald’s parking lot. After waiting for three juveniles to clear the area of the parking lot entrance, he attempted to make the left turn and collided with a Ford pickup truck traveling westbound in the curb lane. 

As a result of the crash, the two drivers were not seriously injured but both pedestrians sustained serious injuries. Dante DeSimone was transported to Mercy Fitzgerald Hospital where we was pronounced dead and Timothy Robison was transported to University of Pennsylvania where he was listed in critical condition with a lung injury, broken shoulders, and bones broken in his leg and foot. Following the vehicular accident, an investigation was conducted by Sgt. Stephen Brown of the Clifton Heights Police Department, and Detective Matthew Cresta of the Delaware County District Attorney’s Criminal Investigation Division (CID) Crash Investigation Unit along with the Pennsylvania State Police. It was concluded that mechanical failure was not a factor for either vehicle involved.

An analysis of Vanderhorst’s blood, which he voluntarily provided following the accident, revealed significant amounts of multiple psychoactive agents in his system including Marijuana and Clonazepam. From the results of a forensic toxicology report, authorities were able to determine that these drugs were taken at the same time or in close proximity to one another, rendering Vanderhorst unfit to operate a motor vehicle safely on the highway on January 12, 2014.

Based on the investigation conducted by Clifton Heights Police Department and CID, it is clear that Vanderhorst was intoxicated to a degree that rendered him incapable of safely operating a motor vehicle. Vanderhorst’s intoxicated condition made him incapable of recognizing the Ford pickup truck traveling westbound on Baltimore Pike and ultimately caused the crash that led to the death of Dante DeSimone and series injuries to Timothy Robison.

“This is a horrible tragedy that resulted in the senseless death of Dante DeSimone who had his full life ahead of him and serious injury to Timothy Robison,” said District Attorney Jack Whelan. “This is an example of how marijuana is a dangerous drug with devastating impacts to the families of these victims.”

Jonathan I. Vanderhorst is charged with homicide by vehicle while driving under the influence and aggravated assault by vehicle while driving under the influence, both a felonies of the second degree, and driving under the influence of a controlled substance and recklessly endangering another person.

Vanderhorst was arrested by authorities on February 24, 2014 and arraigned before Magisterial District Harry J. Karapalides. The preliminary hearing is scheduled for March 6, 2014.