|May 2, 1998
for cyclist's death
Gerald Devlin faces
three traffic fines
in the crash
a Monkton, Md., man in March
By CARYL CLARKE
Daily Record staff
Gayle Fowler believes the Pennsylvania state trooper whose driving killed her
husband should face more than traffic citations for his death. But that's all
the York County district attorney has charged him with.
"In my view, what the gentleman did was criminal," Fowler said Tuesday. "This trooper made a conscious decision to turn around and pursue that vehicle. He made a conscious decision to push that gas pedal to the floor up to 58 mph. He killed my husband."
Kenneth Saunders Fowler, 39, of Monkton, Md., died March 29 riding his motorcycle on a narrow curve on Route 851 in Codorus Township.
A state police investigation revealed that Trooper Gerald Devlin, 30, was traveling 58 mph around a curve posted at 30 mph. He lost control while chasing a car without an inspection sticker. He crossed into the oncoming lane and crashed head on with Fowler.
District Attorney H. Stanley Rebert reviewed the state police investigation, as well as one conducted by his office, before settling on the charges.
He filed the following three summary traffic violations Tuesday with District Justice James Miner:
Reckless driving with "willful disregard for the safety of other persons." Devlin allegedly accelerated to a high rate of speed while approaching a curve. Conviction carries a fine of $270.50.
Driving at an unsafe speed. Devlin allegedly drove faster than reasonable and prudent while rounding a curve, resulting in an accident. Conviction carries a fine of $66.50.
Driving on the wrong side of the road. Devlin allegedly crossed into the opposing traffic lane, causing an accident. Conviction carries a fine of $66.50.
The citations will be sent by certified mail today. After receiving the citations, Devlin will have 10 days to plead guilty or not guilty. Through his wife, Devlin refused to comment Tuesday.
Fowler's wife thinks Devlin should lose his job.
"An individual who shows such poor judgment, such disregard for the safety of others, should take responsibility for his actions," Gayle Fowler said. "He wears a uniform of honor. He does not have that right any longer."
Her sister, Jessica Fowler Vaughan, grasped the difficulty of the situation but couldn't excuse Devlin.
"I feel very sorry for him," Vaughan said. "I am sure this will change his life. That's as it should be. It's a terrible, terrible thing. No matter what happens to him, my brother is gone."
Her husband, Les Vaughan, expressed outrage at the traffic citations. The family will closely watch the state police administrative investigation, he said.
Police are looking into whether Devlin violated department policies in the chase. In the meantime, he remains on the job.
"My objective is for him to lose his job," Les Vaughan said. "He is a bad decision maker, obviously. I am angry because this is not going as it should be going. There is no way in hell he should be employed there! The state of Pennsylvania should be outraged with what's going on in the state police."
His wife agreed, saying, "Now that we know he was driving recklessly and out of control, there is a question whether he should keep his job. This trooper should not be treated any different than any other person if they drive as recklessly as he did."
Rebert said every case is different.
"Police do have certain privileges which allow them to violate traffic laws in pursuit of another violator," Rebert said. "They have to exercise due regard for citizens."
The filing of the summary charges will have no effect on Devlin's job status, but they will become part of the investigation by the state police Bureau of Professional Responsibility, said Jack Lewis, a state police spokesman.
The bureau's investigation will lead to a decision about discipline.
"He is on restricted status right now -- station duty rather than out on the road," Lewis said. "Typically in the past, I am not aware of anybody being dismissed because of similar traffic offenses. But this is a very unique case."