Man, 18, charged in fatal collision Police said his car was going at least 72 m.p.h. and left the road. Three members of a Camden family were killed.

Posted: August 09, 2003

CAMDEN — A Camden County man was arrested and charged yesterday in a head-on car crash in May that fatally injured three members of a Camden family.

Brandon Parker, 18, a senior at the Urban Promise Academy in Pennsauken and the father of a 4-month-old boy, was charged with three counts of death by auto and two counts of assault by auto in the May 18 accident.

Parker shook noticeably and dabbed tears from his eyes during his arraignment before Superior Court Judge Linda G. Baxter, who set bail at $150,000.

Investigators said Parker was traveling at least three times the posted 25-m.p.h. speed limit on Kaighn Avenue when his 1998 Audi became airborne about 9:30 p.m. after crossing a low bridge near the Pub restaurant in Pennsauken.

Parker lost control of the Audi, and it crossed into opposing traffic, slamming head-on into a 1994 Ford Tempo, Assistant Prosecutor Mary Alison Albright said.

Parker walked away from the crash with minor cuts, Albright said.

But the front-seat passenger in the Ford, Gary Acrey, 51, and his stepdaughter, Leah Barnes-McCargo, 13, were pronounced dead at the scene.

The driver of the Ford, Acrey's wife, Ursula McCargo-Acrey, 43, died of her injuries on May 28 at Cooper Hospital-University Medical Center, Camden.

Two teenage girls riding in Parker's Audi suffered several broken bones.

"We allege that these deaths and injuries were caused by the defendant's reckless conduct in operating his vehicle at a speed that was not only way above the speed limit, but was so fast that his vehicle actually became airborne," Camden County Prosecutor Vincent P. Sarubbi said.

Parker was on his way home with the teenage girls about 9 p.m. after dining at a Chinese restaurant, said his attorney, Martin Isenberg. His grandmother had given him the Audi as a graduation present.

The girls told investigators that Parker had been driving at "highway" speeds. The girls said Parker disregarded their requests to slow down immediately before the crash occurred, Albright said.

Witnesses to the crash said the Audi was moving at "an extremely high rate of speed" and that the Ford had been traveling about the posted speed limit, according to court documents.

An accident reconstruction team found the Audi lost contact with the road for 79 feet after cresting on the bridge.

"The Audi was traveling between 72 and 83 m.p.h., and possibly much faster, at the time of the crash," Pennsauken Sgt. Chris Sulzbach said after the hearing.

Sulzbach said he reconstructed the accident with Officer Gerry Henkel using a nearly identical Audi loaned from a Cherry Hill dealership. The reconstruction took place on the same stretch of roadway, which was closed to traffic at the time.

All four wheels of the substitute Audi lost contact with the road and the car became momentarily airborne at 72 m.p.h., Henkel said.

Parker's Audi was outfitted with air bags. The Ford was not, Sulzbach said.

Investigators ruled out alcohol or drug use in connection with the crash.

Parker remained in the Camden County Correctional Facility last night.

He could receive 30 years in prison if convicted on each charge of death by auto and an additional three years if found guilty of the assault by auto charges.

Contact staff writer Sam Wood at 856-779-3838 or at samwood@phillynews.com.

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