On Wednesday, May 27, 2009 Philadelphia resident Donald Willis pleaded guilty to homicide by vehicle (and other related Bucks County DUI charges) and was sentenced to 6 ½ to 13 years in a Pennsylvania state prison by Bucks County Judge Jeffrey Finley.
Mr. Willis has a substantial record of criminal convictions but his most recent charge, the one to which he pleaded guilty on May 27, stems from a fatal Bristol, Bucks County car accident which occurred on November 17, 2008. Mr. Willis and his friend Seamus McNichol, also of Philadelphia, were out drinking at a club in Levittown, lower Bucks County.
Mr. Willis was intoxicated when he left the club and got behind the wheel of his vehicle, with Mr. McNichol as his passenger. Mr. Willis swerved across the road and struck a guardrail, causing his pickup truck to flip over. Mr. McNichol was pinned inside the car and pronounced dead at the scene. At the time of this fatal Bucks County car accident, Mr. Willis was driving with a suspended license due to a prior DUI conviction.
At the scene of the Bristol PA car accident witnesses reported that Mr. Willis escaped from the wreckage and then fled the scene of the DUI related car accident. Mr. Willis was apprehended a short time later at a local drug store. Once apprehended by police, Mr. Willis was given several sobriety tests, which he failed. He refused to give a blood sample.
Bucks County Common Pleas Court Judge Jeffrey Finley imposed a sentence on Mr. Willis which exceeds the state mandatory minimum and placed other restrictive provisions on Mr. Willis’ criminal sentence.
The McNichol family may have a Pennsylvania wrongful death case against Mr. Willis, and a possible Dram Shop case against the club that may have served Mr. Willis too much alcohol.