Double fatal Butler Twp. crash investigation continues

Amanda Christman, The Citizens' Voice, Wilkes-Barre, Pa.
·4 min read

Apr. 5—The investigation into a deadly Saturday night crash in Butler Twp. continues.

Butler Twp. Police Chief Bill Feissner said state police at Hazleton are assisting officers with accident reconstruction, which they hope will determine the cause of the collision.

Police said Crystal Stash, 35, of Dallas was driving a 2020 Tesla north on North Hunter Highway (Route 309) around 7:30 p.m. when she lost control of the vehicle while negotiating a curve. The car crossed into the opposing traffic lane, hit a guiderail and went airborne before plunging into a steep embankment, where it hit several trees between Sleepy Hollow and Drasher roads.

Feissner said Monday police are examining the car Stash was driving, looking at details such as its weight, a skid plate in the undercarriage and a battery in the rear of the vehicle. They are also looking into recorded crash data, evidence at the crash site and the impact on the guiderail.

Skid marks could be found on a bowed and heaved portion of the guiderail Monday, its posts moved in the soil, leaving gaps in the dirt. Flowers and an angel statue were left on the berm near the crash site as people took to social media to offer condolences on Stash's passing.

A GoFundMe page was established in Stash's name by her sister, Brandy Butler of Dallas, who wrote that Stash was a wife and mother of three daughters from 11 to 17 years old. She was also a track and field coach for Holy Redeemer and a "successful" real estate agent for Wychock Real Estate.

Stash was pronounced dead at the scene.

Her passenger, Henry H. Abrahams IV, 28, of Stanhope, New Jersey, was still alive when first responders got there, Valley Regional Fire Chief Bob Pecile said.

Feissner said it's unclear why the pair were in the area.

Pecile said the car broke in half during the collision — one half was found in the embankment closer to the road, while the other half, where the crash victims were found, was further down the embankment.

Firefighters set up a rope to guide EMS workers to Abrahams after the wreck, Pecile said. As medics tended to Abrahams, a more complicated series of ropes was set up by Valley Regional firefighters, who put to use their specialized, technical rescue training. Using that rope system, they hoisted Abrahams out of the embankment and he was loaded into a waiting ambulance.

That ambulance took Abrahams to a landing zone first at the former Angela Park, about 2 miles north of the crash site. The helicopter was unable to land there, however, due to debris blowing around, Pecile said. A second landing zone was set for Hazleton Municipal Airport but Pecile said first responders instead drove him directly to Lehigh Valley Hospital-Hazleton, where he passed away.

Teslas range in price from $36,000 to more than $100,000 depending on the model and added features, said Tyler Marshall, a Tesla salesman. What separates them from other vehicles is a five-star safety rating in every category along with a front and back "crunch zone" which is supposed to buffer impact, he said. The battery is on the bottom of the car, he said.

They are constructed of space-grade aluminum and have cameras which detect other vehicles on the road with a 360-degree view. Any of their models can be self-driving but that feature should only be used on an interstate highway to change lanes, slow down or speed up. It can't make a 90-degree turn and still requires the driver to have their hands on the wheel, Marshall said.

Other features involve self-parking and a summoning tool where the vehicle drives to the owner on its own, Marshall said.

Valley Regional Fire and EMS, were assisted by Fearnots Volunteer Fire Department in Foster Twp., Hazle Twp. Fire and Rescue, Freeland EMS and Mountain Top Ambulance.

The Luzerne County Coroner's Office also responded and was assisted by firefighters.

Traffic was restricted to one lane in both directions for about 3 1/2 hours Saturday while crews investigated.

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