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Fatal wreck in ’18 leads to charges

By Staff | Apr 18, 2019

ALLENWOOD – When a speeding northbound Acura TSX plowed into the back of Stephen and Diane Kent’s Nissan Versa on Route 15 on a Sunday afternoon in January 2018, the couple’s vehicle burst into flames.

With his head and hair on fire, Stephen Kent, the driver, managed to get out of vehicle, but his 60-year-old wife never had a chance.

“Kent put out the flames on his head with his own two hands by patting his head a few times,” Trooper Eileen McDermott, wrote in an affidavit.

“Kent tried to go back toward the vehicle for his wife,” but a passerby “pulled him away because it was engulfed in flames,” McDermott said.

The passerby approached the car to check on Kent’s wife, but “the car was too hot and he could not touch it (or) attempt to open the door,” the trooper, adding that the man told her that there “was so much smoke and flames,” according to court records.

Suffering third-degree burns to his hands and head, Kent, before being flown from the scene to a trauma center, told McDermott “My wife, my wife, my beautiful wife” when she asked him if there was anyone in the car with him.

Diane Kent, of Shamokin, Northumberland County, died at the scene of blunt force trauma and other injuries she suffered last year in the Jan. 21 crash, which occurred just south of here at the Gregg-White Deer township line, McDermott said.

Aaron Morrison, of Williamsport, the driver who crashed into the couple’s car while traveling “in excess of 100 mph,” was charged this week with homicide by vehicle, aggravated assault by vehicle and related offenses.

“While Stephen Kent was able to escape the Nissan Versa following the impact, Diane Kent, a front-seat passenger, could not. Her body was trapped in the vehicle and was severely burned before the fire was extinguished,” McDermott wrote in the affidavit.

Morrison, 30, who suffered injuries in the crash, was assisted out of his vehicle by three people, including Adera who was able to “partially crawl into the car that was on its hood and unbuckle the driver’s seat belt,” McDermott said.

In the back of an ambulance, McDermott was able to briefly question Morrison about the crash before he was taken to Geisinger Medical Center, Danville.

Morrison, of 2340 Roosevelt Ave., told the trooper he had been up the past 24 hours visiting a friend in Adams County and was helping the friend fix a laptop.

Although he was tired and knew he should have stayed at his friend’s home, Morrison said he wanted to get home to see the Eagles football game on television, according to McDermott.

“Morrison related he thinks he fell asleep. He did not recall what happened,” the trooper said. Morrison was treated at Geisinger and released hours later.

Initially taken to Geisinger, Stephen Kent was later admitted to the burn unit at the Lehigh Valley Hospital in Allentown, where he spent five days being treated for burns to his head, face and hands, McDermott said.

More than a year after the crash, Kent has

lasting scars to his head and hands, and suffers from neck pain and headaches, the trooper added.

On Monday, Morrison, already jailed in the Lycoming County Prison on other offenses, was arraigned on the felony vehicular homicide and aggravated assault by vehicle charges as well as involuntary manslaughter, recklessly endangering, possession of a controlled substance (a synthetic drug found his car) and several summary traffic violations. He was recommitted in lieu of $15,000 bail.

The charges in Lycoming County were filed by Williamsport police following an incident two weeks ago when Morrison allegedly made more than 89 telephone calls to an ex-girlfriend in a 90-minute period, according to court records.

He was held for court last week on those charges, which included stalking and harassment. He is incarcerated in lieu of $15,000 bail in this case.