Horsham man pleads guilty to killing two friends in high-speed DUI

Connor McNicholas: Driving drunk when he crashed car that killed two pals.
Connor McNicholas: Driving drunk when he crashed car that killed two pals.
Posted: June 14, 2012

One night of alcohol-induced fun for five friends led to their families' lives being changed forever, and now the Temple University student who was behind the wheel for the accident that claimed the lives of two of his friends last summer is headed to prison.

Connor McNicholas, 20, pleaded guilty Tuesday to charges stemming from crash last August that killed Robert Walker Nagel and Edward Taylor Coombs, both 19. McNicholas was sentenced to four to eight years in prison by Judge William J. Furber Jr. in Montgomery County Court.

Authorities say McNicholas was driving a 2007 Honda Civic at about 100 mph when it careened off the road at Witmer and Norristown roads in Horsham, Montgomery County, with four others in the car on the way back from a party.

The two other occupants and McNicholas were taken to Abington Memorial Hospital for minor injuries. Authorities said that McNicholas' blood-alcohol content after the crash was at .117, above the legal limit of 0.08 percent.

McNicholas reached a plea agreement that reduced the 20 charges against him to seven, including homicide by vehicle while driving under the influence.

The families of those killed in the accident were present at the hearing and directed blame for the accident on McNicholas, who graduated with Nagel and Coombs from Hatboro-Horsham High School in 2010.

"I hold you [McNicholas] personally responsible for the death of my son," said Coombs' father, Eric. "You [McNicholas] took the heartbeat out of my life."

Nagel's mother, Patricia, said she hasn't heard from McNicholas or his family since the accident.

"It has been 10 months and we have heard nothing from you or your family," she said. "Not a day goes by that I don't miss my son."

At the time of the incident, McNicholas was getting ready to enter his second year at Temple, fresh off a season in which he earned all-conference honors for the school's golf team. He was named most outstanding rookie performer at the Atlantic Ten Conference Championship.

After the accident, McNicholas — a student in Temple's Fox School of Business, according to the university directory — attended his second year at the school, but appears to have to put his student career on hold.

"In two minutes you ruined my life and your life," Coombs said. "Edward trusted you with his life, and you took it away from him."

Toward the end of the hearing, a visibly distraught McNicholas expressed remorse to the victim's parents.

"It breaks my heart to know that they don't have sons anymore and I'm responsible for that," he said. n

Contact Sean Carlin at 215-854-5926 or seancrln@yahoo.com, or follow on Twitter @SeanCarlin84.

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