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In mid-December, a deadly accident cost Tsegai Gebremichael his life when Danae Marie Swartz hit his car on Route 113 in Hilltown Township.

Gebremichael died at the scene from injuries sustained in the accident, police said. Officials charged Swartz with homicide by vehicle and homicide by DUI, police said.

What is homicide by vehicle?

In Pennsylvania, homicide by vehicle is sometimes called vehicular manslaughter. It occurs when a driver is operating a vehicle either under the influence of drugs or alcohol or is recklessly committing a traffic offense and, as a result, causes the death of another person.

If a homicide-by-vehicle conviction is related to a DUI, it is a second-degree felony that usually carries a sentence of three to 10 years in prison, a three-year license suspension and a maximum of $25,000 in fines.

If a homicide-by-vehicle conviction is related to a traffic offense, it is a third-degree felony with a sentence of up to seven years in prison, a three-year license suspension and a maximum of $15,000 in fines.

The mid-December accident

The December 16 accident occurred when Swartz, 26, of Perkasie, who was driving a blue 2005 Honda Civic, lost control while navigating a curve and spun into oncoming traffic on Route 113 near Quakertown. The front of her vehicle struck a white 1991 Honda Civic driven by Gebremichael, 56, of Sellersville.

Gebremichael was pronounced dead at the scene and the coroner ruled the death an accident, adding that the charge of vehicular homicide after an accident is common.

Swartz’s injuries were not considered life-threatening. She was treated at St. Luke’s University Hospital in Fountain Hill and released, police said. They have not released her BAC level yet. She was sent to Bucks County jail in lieu of $500,000 bail with a preliminary hearing scheduled for later in January.

An accident can turn deadly in the blink of an eye. Alcohol only makes matters worse. If you’ve had a drink or two and are ready to leave the party, the best course of action is to ride with a sober friend, get a taxi or travel via ride-sharing app, or just stay put for several hours until you’re able to drive yourself home.