Charges filed in crash that killed tow truck operator

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SOUTH ABINGTON TOWNSHIP, LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) – An arrest warrant was issued Friday for a Massachusetts truck driver accused of a crash that took the life of a Lackawanna County tow truck operator.

The wreck happened almost exactly one year ago in August 2016.

David Duchnik, Jr. was a third generator tow truck operator and was doing what he did best on Interstate 81, helping people.

State police say the driver who caused the wreck that killed him should have never been on the road.

A small memorial sits in the median sits in the median of Interstate 81 in South Abington Township.

That is where David Duchnik, Jr. was fatally injured.

As a tow truck operator, the 29-year-old was working to clear a wreck when a tractor trailer entered the emergency zone and hit a pick-up truck, pushing it into the Scott Township man, causing his death.

“It’s been a long intense investigation,” District Attorney Shane Scanlon said.

District attorney Shane Scanlon believes the truck driver, Johnny Coelho of Massachusetts actually falsified his log books, not taking mandatory breaks.

“The state police have determined in excess of 35 hours without a significant break in driving, drive time,” Scanlon said.

The loss of David Duchnik, Jr. is still on the minds of many people in Lackawanna County.

“He was just a great guy. He didn’t do anything wrong!” friend Jonathan Nemath said.

What made this situation even more tragic is the victim’s father was working at the scene that day as well and witnessed what happened.

Friends can’t comprehend his loss.

“He’s got to live with it everyday because they were like Batman and Robin down there, you know, they’d jump on anything!” John Nemath said.

State police have charged Johnny Coelho with homicide by vehicle and involuntary manslaughter and more saying he had a willful and wanton disregard for the safety of others on the road that day.

“We had a police officer that was almost struck who actually observed the driver in what appeared to be a state where he wasn’t able to pay attention or comprehend what was happening,” Scanlon said.

Arrangements are now being made to bring Coelho back to Lackawanna County to face charges.

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