A Berks County man sobbed as a judge sentenced him to at least 6 months in prison for crashing an ambulance he was driving, killing a passenger inside and another driver in 2016.
“Never did I want to hurt anyone. My life has been about helping others,” said 22-year-old Jeffrey R. Gable in court Monday.
Gable was driving a non-emergency transport ambulance with Doris Waltz, 60, of Elizabethtown, inside on Route 30 in Salisbury Township. He veered into opposing traffic and collided head-on with a car driven by Jason Oswald, 43, of Manheim Township. Both Waltz and Oswald died, according to officials.
Gable, of Mohnton, was released on unsecured bail since charges were filed in August 2017. In court Monday, Assistant District Attorney Jared Hinsey arranged a plea deal which downgraded two vehicular homicide charges to involuntary manslaughter. Gable also pleaded guilty to aggravated assault by vehicle, two counts of recklessly endangering another person and a few traffic citations.
President Judge Dennis Reinaker accepted the plea and sentenced Gable to 6 to 23 months in prison and 8 years of probation. He will be eligible for work release.
Reinaker called it a “very difficult case” for everyone involved.
Close to 20 friends and family members of Waltz and Oswald huddled in the court room.
Oswald had a “magnetic personality,” said friend Brandon Arms. He is survived by his wife and two children, ages 12 and 10.
“We are left with an emptiness that lasts everyday while your life continues,” Arms said to Gable.
A representative for Waltz’s family read a statement. Waltz, full of “faith and hope” used a wheelchair. Just before she was killed, she had a doctor’s appointment to discuss a knee surgery to help her walk.
“She had a zest for life. We miss her,” the statement said.
Defense attorney Chris Patterson told the court that Gable does not remember the crash.
“Every day, every time we’ve talked, he’s expressed remorse,” Patterson said.
Gable, dressed in a dark suit, apologized to the families.