BAYONNE, NJ - The jury in the trial of the man accused of being responsible for causing the wreck that took the lives of Bayonne resident Timothy O’Donnell, and his daughter Bridget, heard opening statements from both the prosecution and defense on Monday.
Scott Hahn, Hamilton, has been charged with two counts each of Aggravated Manslaughter, Vehicular Homicide, and Possession of a Controlled Dangerous Substance.
Monday, February 22, 2016, started like any other day, Prosecutor Leo Hernandez told the jury of 16, including four alternates, as Pam O’Donnell, the victim’s wife and mother looked on.
However, he added, Timothy and Bridget never made it home, and the day became one of “unimaginable devastation, unthinkable sorrow.”
Hernandez went on to recount the incident in which Hahn hit O’Donnell’s vehicle from behind while it sat in a toll booth at Interchange 14C of the New Jersey Turnpike. According to reports Hahn was traveling approximately 53 miles per hour. The impact so severe, he continued, that it sent the victim’s car into oncoming traffic and caused injuries to Timothy, including cracked ribs on both sides and the severing of several major arteries that led to his near immediate death.
Bridget, just five years old at the time, died a short time later while on route to Jersey City Medical Center.
Hernandez told the jury that they’d hear testimony from several experts, including New Jersey State Police, a forensic pathologist, and a forensic toxicologist, as well as statements from the accused in which he allegedly admitted to being awake for 24 hours prior to the accident and having taken 10 adderall pills in 16 hours. Adderall is typically prescribed to treat symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and narcolepsy.
In a shorter introduction to the case by the suspect’s attorney, Scott Finckenaur offered his agreement that the case was a tragedy.
“But that’s not what this trial is about,” he said, asking the jurors to keep an open mind about what they had just heard from the prosecution and to “divorce (their) feelings of the consequences and judge his actions” prior to the accident, including stopping to speak to a police officer directing traffic in a construction zone just hundreds of yards from the eventual crash site.
The trial is expected to continue Wednesday and last for three to four weeks.
Pam O’Donnell has become an advocate of efforts to reduce distracted driving, becoming a sought after speaker on the topic, and launched the Catch You Later Foundation in honor of Timothy and Bridget.
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