Driver charged with being on drugs in crash that killed Berks CEO

SALLY MIKSIEWICZ

A 56-year-old Berks County man allegedly was speeding and driving his pickup truck under the influence of a combination of prescription drugs when he struck and killed an area business executive during her morning jog on a rural road, according to state police.

Mark David Miller, of the 200 block of South View Road, Richmond Township, was charged Thursday, July 24, with homicide by vehicle while driving under the influence of a controlled substance, homicide by vehicle, driving under the influence of a controlled substance, involuntary manslaughter, recklessly endangering another person, reckless and careless driving and driving at an unsafe speed in connection with the 7:27 a.m. June 20 crash that claimed the life of jogger Sally Miksiewicz, the 52-year-old CEO of East Penn Manufacturing Co.

State Police at Reading said Miller was arrested at his residence at 5 a.m. Thursday. He is being held in the Berks County Prison to await a preliminary hearing on the charges.

Berks County District Attorney John T. Adams announced the charges at an afternoon news conference.

With the charges, authorities alleged Miller was traveling about 54 mph in an area posted 25 mph at the time the crash occurred on Boyer Road, just east of Ridgewood Lane in rural Pike Township. Subsequent blood tests indicated positive findings in Miller’s blood for amphetamine, methamphetamine, clonazepam, oxycodone and metabolites, or traces, of marijuana, according to the arrest affidavit.

In charging documents, state police alleged Miller was driving while under the influence of “the combination of central nervous system depressants and narcotic analgesics” to a degree that rendered him incapable of safely operating a vehicle. The arrest affidavit indicated additional toxicology test results are pending.

An extensive crash analysis and reconstruction by state police and the Berks County District Attorney’s Office determined Miller was traveling eastbound on Boyer Road in a 1994 Ford Ranger pickup truck when he “failed to properly negotiate a right curve in the roadway,” according to the affidavit of probable cause filed by state police Trooper Brian Jasinski.

Miller allegedly applied his brakes and the vehicle skidded, traveling across the roadway and striking Miksiewicz, who was jogging east on Boyer Road, properly against the direction of traffic, to the north side of the roadway, according to court documents.

Miksiewicz was pronounced dead at the scene. An autopsy determined Miksiewicz died from injuries “which resulted from blunt impact to the head,” according to the criminal complaint. Miller was not injured.

Investigators alleged Miller was traveling about 54 mph in an area posted for 25 mph and that the curve he failed to properly negotiate has a “critical curve speed” of approximately 54 mph. Authorities alleged Miller “lost control of his vehicle because he entered the curve at or above the critical curve speed threshold.”

“Throughout the incident Miller gave conflicting reports to the cause of the crash,” Jasinski alleged in court documents, adding Miller made statements to a 911 operator that he may have fallen asleep while driving.

Miller, who told police he was going for a morning drive and was familiar with the roadway, also allegedly stated at one point, “I don’t know if I was going too fast or what the deal is” and “I couldn’t make the turn,” according to the affidavit of probable cause. Miller also allegedly told first responders that Miksiewicz may have crossed the roadway causing him to strike her and “that an overflowing container of laundry obstructed his view,” according to the criminal complaint.

When asked by authorities if he was under the influence of alcohol or any controlled substances Miller claimed that he was “not taking anything,” according to police.

“Miller was observed to be trembling constantly,” Jasinski alleged, adding troopers noticed Miller’s “speech was noticeably slow, low and raspy” and that his “eyelids were droopy as he appeared to be very tired and lethargic.”

When questioned further about his medication or drug use, Miller allegedly related that he was taking several prescription medications, including oxycodone, fentanyl, Zoloft, Klonopin and Vasotec, according to the arrest affidavit.

East Penn Manufacturing is a battery maker near Fleetwood and one of the largest employers in Berks County. The company manufactures the Deka battery brand, among others. Miksiewicz was the daughter of company co-founder DeLight E. Breidegam Jr. and spent more than 30 years working at East Penn. She was also a trustee at Moravian College in Bethlehem.

About 3,000 people attended a memorial service for Miksiewicz on June 27 at Kutztown University.

Follow Carl Hessler Jr. on Twitter @MontcoCourtNews