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Montco man admits to DUI in crash death of 13-year-old

NORRISTOWN A somber appearing Ambler man admitted that he was speeding and driving under the influence of illegal drugs when he struck and killed a 13-year-old Penllyn boy who was riding a scooter in Lower Gwynedd.

Andrew Richard Meyers, 26, of North Main Street, pleaded guilty Friday in Montgomery County Court to charges of homicide by vehicle while driving under the influence of a controlled substance, DUI, reckless driving, speeding and possession of a controlled substance in connection with the March 17, 2010, crash at Brights Lane and Cindy Circle that claimed the life of Natan Luehrmann-Cowan.

Blood tests determined Meyers had the anti-anxiety medication Clonazepam, Methadone and traces of marijuana in his system at the time of the crash. Meyers told investigators that he was addicted to heroin and was self-medicating by taking Methadone and Clonazepam, according to the arrest affidavit.

He’s a heroin addict who was self medicating rather than going for rehab. He’s taking drugs from the street to try to deal with his heroin addiction. He’s living his life impaired and he’s driving under a condition that he should never have been behind the wheel of a car, alleged Assistant District Attorney Bradford Richman, referring to Meyers.

It was a matter of time before someone was going to pay the price for this. Unfortunately, it was Natan, and Richman added.

Judge Thomas P. Rogers deferred sentencing so that court officials can complete a background investigative report about Meyers.

At the very least, Meyers, who remains free on bail pending sentencing, faces a mandatory three-year prison term for the conviction of homicide by vehicle while DUI.

Mr. Meyers is devastated by this. Obviously, this was not an intentional act in any way. This has taken a huge toll and he recognizes that he is ultimately responsible for what occurred and is willing to take the punishment that the court deems is just, and defense lawyer James P. Lyons said on Meyers’ behalf. He realizes that a life is gone because of his poor judgment.

Since the crash, Lyons said, Meyers has sought inpatient and outpatient drug treatment and grief counseling.

He has been sober since the day of this accident, and Lyons said.

Luehrmann-Cowan’s mother tightly clutched the hand of a family friend and her husband closed his eyes as Richman recalled for the judge the tragic circumstances surrounding the crash.

Luehrmann-Cowan was a chess champion who had been accepted to a program for gifted students at Johns Hopkins University and was described by friends as a boy who had the kind of critical thinking that would have led him to, in some way, influence the course of the human condition, Richman said.

He would have invented something, he would have cured something. This boy was a real prodigy and a genius and would have done something to help mankind. And in a momentary lapse, he is gone and well never know what the world lost because of that, said Richman, pointing out the significance of the tragedy.

Meyers bowed his head as he listened to Richman’s recitation of the facts.

Meyers, authorities alleged, was speeding through the residential neighborhood when he struck Luehrmann-Cowan, about 6:30 p.m.

The boy, a seventh-grader at Wissahickon Middle School, had crossed Brights Lane on his Razor scooter, not far from his home, when he was struck by Meyers’ 1999 Ford Ranger pick-up truck traveling southbound at 63 miles per hour, according to a criminal complaint. Brights Lane has a posted speed limit of 25 mph, court papers indicate.

The critically injured boy was transported to Abington Memorial Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 8:54 p.m. An autopsy determined the boy died from multiple injuries.

Police who observed Meyers at the scene of the crash said he had bloodshot eyes and he allegedly told investigators they might find traces of marijuana in his system from before, according to the arrest affidavit.

When he was interviewed about the incident on March 19, Meyers allegedly told detectives he had smoked marijuana earlier on the day of the crash. Meyers also claimed that bushes prevented him from seeing Luehrmann-Cowan and that he attempted to stop but couldn’t avoid striking the child.

However, authorities alleged the investigation determined that Luehrmann-Cowan had safely crossed the road and had reached the opposite side of the road at the time he was struck. Meyers’ inability to properly perceive the path of travel of Luehrmann-Cowan resulted in his applying his brakes and steering to the left and directly into the path of the boy, according to the criminal complaint.

Authorities alleged the drugs found in Meyers’ bloodstream can produce impairment characterized by diminished faculties in the areas of alertness, judgment, perception, coordination and response time. Such impairment, authorities alleged, can render a person unfit to safely operate a motor vehicle.

Meyers confirmed he was not prescribed these medications by a medical professional. Meyers also stated he obtains the Methadone and Clonazepam he takes from buying them from the streets,  Montgomery County Detective Mark Minzola and Lower Gwynedd Detective Sgt. Ronald Lynch wrote in the arrest affidavit.

Authorities alleged that a search of Meyers’ pickup truck uncovered a small canister containing eight pills that were identified as Clonazepam.

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