Prison term in fatal Bucks drag-racing accident

Posted: August 17, 2013

After being convicted of what is believed to be the only third-degree murder charge based on speeding in Pennsylvania, a Bucks County man was sentenced Thursday to eight to 25 years in prison for a drag-racing crash that killed a 9-year-old girl and maimed her grandmother.

"If I could trade places with them, I would do it, I would do it right now," Drew Bodden, 38, told the family before his sentencing, his voice cracking. "I am sorry to the deepest depths of my soul."

Bodden, of Plumstead, drove his souped-up Mustang more than 140 m.p.h. on Route 611 in Doylestown Township before plowing into a Honda CR-V on the eve of Thanksgiving.

Holly Huynh, who was buckled up in the backseat, died at the scene after suffering a broken neck and numerous additional injuries. Her grandmother Suzanne Berry nearly died and now must use a wheelchair, depending on family members to help her eat and go to the bathroom. Berry is from Pipersville, as was Holly.

Before the sentence was handed down, Colleen Huynh, Holly's mother, described identifying her daughter's body at the morgue but being unable "to hug or kiss her because she was still a piece of evidence."

"She'll never get to go to Europe after she graduates high school as we always planned," Huynh said as her mother, who cannot talk, cried in her wheelchair. "My daughter will never learn to drive, but her life was taken by someone who was given that privilege."

Bodden's family also testified on his behalf, describing him as a good man who has helped many people through difficult times. His mother, Grace Sample, said she had held Bodden in her arms on several occasions as they cried together over his "deep remorse" for causing the crash.

"The unfortunate problem here is that the nice Drew Bodden . . . occupies the same body that is interested in taking risks," Bucks County Court Judge Clyde Waite said before he handed down the sentence.

Waite found Bodden guilty of third-degree murder in June because his speeding rose to a level of recklessness that showed a wanton disregard for human life. Prosecutors said he was playing a "cat-and-mouse game" with a Cadillac seconds before the wreck.

Robert James, who prosecuted the case, told reporters that this is the only known third-degree murder conviction in Pennsylvania based solely on speed and not other factors such as drunken driving. James said his information came from the Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association.

William Goldman, an attorney for the Huynh/Berry family, said they believe the criminal justice system works.

"They're breathing a collective sigh of relief that the criminal process is over," he said. "The common mantra of the family is, let's move forward. Let's heal."


Contact Ben Finley at 610-313-8118 or bfinley@phillynews.com, or on Twitter @Ben_Finley. Get more Bucks County news at Inquirer.com/bucksinq.

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