One of two Northeast Philadelphia men charged in a 2015 drag-racing crash that killed three of their friends and critically injured a fourth has pleaded guilty to five counts and will spend years in prison.
Christopher Bloomfield, 21, pleaded guilty Thursday before Common Pleas Court Judge Kathryn Streeter Lewis to three counts of vehicular homicide while intoxicated, one count of aggravated assault while driving under the influence, and one count of leaving the scene of a fatal accident.
Under the agreement negotiated by Assistant District Attorney Thomas Lipscomb and defense attorney Fred Goodman, Bloomfield was sentenced immediately to 11 to 25 years in prison and ordered to pay $4,398 restitution.
Before he was sentenced, Bloomfield read a statement apologizing to the families of the three friends he killed: Yvette Gonzalez and Sabrina Rhoads, both 17 and from the Northeast; and Felipe Hernandez, 20, of Medford.
Mournful statements about how the deaths have affected their lives were presented by Gonzalez’s aunt Kelly McDade; Rhoads’ sister, Crystal Smith; and Hernandez’s father, Army Sgt. Felipe Hernandez.
A fourth passenger in Bloomfield’s car, Bogdan Arutyunov, 18, is recovering from a broken pelvis, nose, leg, ankle, elbow, and eye socket; and has cognitive problems. Neither he nor any of his relatives were in court for Bloomfield’s guilty plea.
Bloomfield’s codefendant, Ryan Farrell, 21, was in court. Lipscomb and defense attorney Louis T. Savino told the judge that Farrell also was considering a proposed plea agreement but “wasn’t there yet.”
Lewis set July 13 for a hearing at which Farrell will either plead guilty or have his case assigned to a trial judge.
According to testimony at last July’s preliminary hearing for the two men, they were among a group of friends hanging out and smoking marijuana at a restaurant parking lot in the Northeast on July 29.
Witnesses said Farrell boasted that his gold 2003 Chevrolet Impala could beat Bloomfield’s black 2007 Acura TL and dared his friend to a race.
Shortly before midnight, Farrell, with two friends as passengers, and Bloomfield, with the four friends in his car, drove to Sandmeyer Lane off Red Lion Road, a strip inside a business park long known for illegal street racing.
At last year’s hearing, Lipscomb presented a 35-minute compilation of surveillance videos that showed the two speeding vehicles.
The video shows Bloomfield’s Acura pull ahead and then become airborne as it hits a curb and flies into a tree, breaking in half and bursting into flames.
A police accident expert testified that Bloomfield’s Acura was going 97 mph when it hit the curb. He said the car left 112 feet of skid marks and was airborne 57 feet before touching down and hitting the tree.
On the video, Bloomfield, Farrell, and others are seen walking near the crash scene afterward, gesticulating and then leaving the wreckage behind.
All the dead and injured were passengers in Bloomfield’s car.