Fatal accident turns criminal

A fatal car crash that killed an 18-year-old old pedestrian last month in Clifton Heights turned from a tragedy to an alleged criminal act today.

Police have charged Jonathan Vanderhost, 45, of Lansdowne, with homicide by vehicle while driving under the influence and related offenses for the Jan. 12 car crash that claimed the life of recent Upper Darby High grad Dante DeSimone, 18.

DeSimone was on foot with two other friends near the McDonald's on Baltimore Pike near Lehann Circle in Clifton Heights at around 9:20 p.m. when a crash between Vanderhost and another driver caused the other driver's pickup truck to plow into DeSimone and one of his friends. DeSimone died as a result of his injuries and his friend suffered broken bones in his shoulder, leg and foot, as well as a lung injury.

According to police, Vanderhost was making a left hand turn when he collided with the pickup truck.

In the immediate aftermath of the incident, Clifton Heights Police Chief Tim Rockenbach said the accident appeared to be "a tragedy" and that both drivers had stayed on scene and voluntarily provided a blood test. Neither appeared to be intoxicated, he said.

However, when the blood results came back, "significant amounts" of marijuana and Clonazepam, a drug which is used to treat certain kinds of seizures and panic attacks, were found in Vanderhost's blood, police said.

Prosecutors said Vanderhost was so drugged up he was "incapable" of recognizing the truck he hit.