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Driver charged with homicide in Lititz crash that killed two high school students

Written by Brett Sholtis/WITF News | Dec 6, 2018 2:54 PM
Lancaster DA Craig Stedman

Lancaster County District Attorney Craig Stedman, center, speaks to reporters Dec. 6, 2018 about the October 26 multi-vehicle crash that killed two Warwick High School students. At left is Lititz Borough Police Chief Kerry Nye. At right is Lancaster County Assistant District Attorney Jared Hinsey. (Brett Sholtis/WITF News)

(Lancaster) -- The Lancaster County woman accused of killing two high school students with her car faces two charges of third-degree murder and 13 other charges. 

Debra Slaymaker-Walker was seen driving erratically in the minutes leading up to the crash, said Lancaster County District Attorney Craig Stedman. Police attempted to stop her, but the 63-year-old Mount Joy woman fled. She struck a school bus--no one was injured in that collision--and she headed toward Warwick High School just as classes were getting out. 

Stedman said Slaymaker-Walker wasn't driving like someone who might be having a medical emergency or condition, but rather like someone with "gross disregard" of others. 

"It's purposeful, evasive, it's effective driving--up until the end. Then she's going 75 miles an hour, approximately, when she's running out of room. But still, to thread that needle that she did, and the other driving, I think it kind of speaks for itself." 

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This detail from a Dec. 6, 2018 criminal docket shows the full list of charges filed against Debra Slaymaker-Walker. (Screen capture)

He said crime scene analysis was used to determined her speed--triple the posted 25 miles-per-hour speed limit in the school zone--when she caused the multi-vehicle crash that killed Warwick High School juniors Jack Nicholson and Meghan Keeney and injured others. 

Slaymaker-Walker is not charged with DUI, and no drugs or paraphernalia were found in her possession, Stedman said. 

He declined to say whether there was any suspected motive, and emphasized that a third-degree murder charge implies malice, but does not imply the intent to kill any one person. 

"You pretty much know, particularly in that location, you pretty much know someone is going to get killed," he said. "So we are not in any way suggesting that she intended the death of these two kids."

Slaymaker-Walker is in police custody at an undisclosed medical facility, Stedman said. 

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Warwick Superintendent April Hershey said the district has had to deal with the deaths of students before, but never like this. Because of the time and location of the accident, many students witnessed it and school staff acted as first responders.

Hershey said Keeney and Nicholson were very well known in the community.

She said Keeney was a member of the field hockey and girls lacrosse teams, and will be remembered for her passion for music. Nicholson had just joined the wrestling team, had been training as a boxer for the past three years, and bought his first car with money he had saved from mowing lawns over the summer.

"They traveled in different circles so they touched a lot of different kinds of lives," Hershey said. "We've had a huge amount of students asking for assistance because they've known those students. But even those students who didn't know them personally feel this very deeply."

More: Lancaster County community deeply feels loss of two students 

Published in Lancaster, News

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