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Man charged in Bristol Township crash that killed Connecticut couple


A 31-year-old man was charged Wednesday with two counts of homicide by vehicle while DUI for the fatal Bristol Township crash that claimed the lives of a couple from Connecticut earlier this year.

John Thomas Wadlinger, of Croydon, has been in custody on a state parole violation since Feb, 24, the day the Bucks County District Attorney’s Office said he sped through a traffic intersection and crashed into a car, killing Rebecca Whiddon, 33, and Richard Whiddon, 37, both of Brooklyn, Conn.

The case was investigated by the DA’s Office, the Bristol Township Police Department, and the Plumstead Township Police Department. The DA’s Office said the investigation found that Wadlinger was under the influence of methamphetamine and amphetamine and was driving at a minimum of 73 miles per hour, more than twice the posted speed limit, when he crashed at 1:32 p.m. in the intersection of Ford Road and Veterans Highway in Bristol Township.

The investigation revealed that a Nissan Sentra, occupied by four people, was traveling westbound on Ford Road and was attempting to make a left turn onto southbound Veteran’s Highway when it was struck by a black Ford Explorer, driven by Wadlinger, traveling east on Ford Road at an excessively high rate of speed. Several eyewitnesses to the crash told police that the Ford Explorer was “flying.”

Upon arrival at the crash scene, police indicated that the Nissan Sentra suffered catastrophic damage. The Whiddons were deceased upon police arrival, and the driver and third occupant sustained significant injuries.

Wadlinger fled the scene on foot before police arrived, stole a dump truck parked on Old Rodgers Road, and drove off, the DA’s Office said. Police followed the dump truck, but when it crashed, Wadlinger again fled on foot. He was taken into custody a short time later.

Wadlinger was transported to the hospital for medical treatment and investigators obtained a search warrant to seize the blood samples that were drawn by hospital personnel. He was then taken to Bucks County Correctional Facility and held without bail on a state parole violation.

One of the surviving victims was hospitalized for eight days with injuries that included a collapsed lung, liver laceration, multiple rib fractures, a right clavicle fracture and acute blood loss. She also required surgery on her spleen. The other victim suffered a finger fracture, musculoskeletal pain, and abrasions to the forehead, clavicle, and hands.

On Wednesday, Wadlinger was arraigned before Magisterial District Judge Kevin P. Wagner on two counts each of homicide by vehicle while DUI, homicide by vehicle, and involuntary manslaughter.

He also faces counts of aggravated assault by vehicle while DUI, aggravated assault by vehicle, accidents involving death or injury, accidents involving death or injury while not properly licensed, driving under the influence, recklessly endangering another person, fleeing or eluding police, and flight to avoid apprehension.

Additionally, he was charged with counts of theft by unlawful taking, receiving stolen property, unauthorized use of a motor vehicle, possession of an instrument of crime, criminal mischief, defiant trespassing, driving on a suspended license, and nine summary traffic offenses.

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