After deadly crash, freshman golfer arrested, charged

A car crash that left two dead could land a student behind bars.

A freshman golf player last year, Connor McNicholas earned All-Conference honors and was named Most Outstanding Rookie Performer at the Atlantic Ten Conference Championship. But, his future at Temple may be in jeopardy, following charges of a DUI and two counts of vehicular homicide.

Connor McNicholas was arrested Wednesday, but released Thursday, after bail was posted. Photo courtesy Montgomery County district attorney's office.

The charges, along with others, were announced Wednesday, in relation to an Aug. 6 car crash that left two young men dead.

An Ambler, Pa. resident, McNicholas was driving west on Witmer Road in Horhsam, Pa. at approximately 1:19 a.m., when his 2007 Honda Civic, traveling between 97 and 103 miles per hour, went off the road, crashing into several trees, according to a press release by the Montgomery County district attornery’s office.

After sustaining head injuries during the crash, Robert Walker Nagel, 19, and Edward Taylor Coombs, 19, were pronounced dead.

Following the crash, McNicholas, Darryl Neville, 18, and Timothy Kurpiel, 19, were transported to the Abington Memorial Hospital for treatment of minor injuries.

“One tree was 22 inches thick and 20 feet tall and the car sheared it off,” said Kevin Steele, first assistant district attorney at the Montgomery County district attorney’s office. “After seeing the condition of the car personally, I’m surprised anyone survived the crash.”

A blood test had indicated that McNicholas’ blood-alcohol content level was about fives times the legal limit, approximately .117.

McNicholas was arrested Wednesday with a bail set at $500,000, which was posted yesterday, Thursday, releasing him from jail.

In addition to the aforementioned charges, McNicholas is being charged with lying to police after allegedly telling authorities that the passengers were strangers after the accident, Steele confirmed.

“They were his best friends that he grew up with, which is why he was charged with falsification with the police,” Steele said.

The county district attorney’s office has handed the case off to the attorney general’s office for prosecution. McNicholas has reportedly entered a not-guilty plea.

Lauren Bozart, spokeswoman for the attorney general’s office, said she could not comment on case specifics but confirmed that her office had received a referral for the case and that a prosecutor was being assigned to it.

Just days before the crash occurred, McNicholas participated in the 36-hole USAG Amateur Golf Qualifier tournament, perhaps a testament to his golfing skills.

Larry Dougherty, senior associate athletic director for communications said “the university is not going to comment on [the situation,] it’s a tragedy.”

That’s how sophomore broadcast telecommunications major Joe O’Neill describes it, too. O’neill, who graduated from Hatboro-Horsham High School with McNicholas, Walker and Coombs, said learning about the deaths was “tragic to hear.”

“I feel really bad for both of the families losing their sons. It’s one of those things – you’ve heard it over and over again, but you never really think it will happen until it does,” O’Neill said. “It’s a reminder that you need to be safe while making those decisions.”

Lisa Le, a first-year dental student, mirrored O’Neill’s statements about drinking and driving.

“A lot of college students think they’re in a normal state, when they’re [actually] putting lives in danger,” Le said. “It’s irresponsible.”

Joseph Cranney, Angelo Fichera and Connor Showalter can be reached at news@temple-news.com.

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