BALLSTON SPA, N.Y. – Dennis Drue has just pleaded guilty in Saratoga County Court to 58 counts against him for causing the Northway crash that killed two Shenendehowa High School seniors last year.
Drue, 23, was previously indicted on 59 criminal charges, including 52 felonies, including Aggravated Vehicular Homicide, Vehicular Manslaughter and DWI, for causing the December 2012 car crash that killed Deanna Rivers and Chris Stewart, both 17-years old, and seriously injured Matthew Hardy and Bailey Wind.
On Friday, he pleaded guilty to 58 counts as family members of the victims stood in court behind him. His trial was scheduled to begin Monday.
Drue is expected to receive 5 to 15 years in prison when sentenced in December. He is also expected to be ordered to use an ignition interlock device in his car for three years post release and is waiving his right to appeal as part of the plea.
The judge asked Drue if he caused the death of two Shen students, to which he replied “yes.” Drue also admitted to the judge he was high on marijuana and speeding at the time of the crash.
The judge has allowed Drue to remain free on $50,000 bail until his December 5th sentencing.
Last week, an appeals court denied a motion filed by Drue's attorney to change the venue for the trial.
District Attorney Jim Murphy says Drue's blood alcohol content was over the legal limit at the time of the crash and that he was impaired by drugs. Prosecutors also say marijuana and drug paraphilia were both found in Drue's car.
Earlier this month, the judge decided to allow Drue's statements he made after a fatal crash to be used in court. Drue told officers on scene the night of December 1, 2012 that he hit black ice and lost control of his vehicle. When a trooper engaged him in conversation Drue said, “Oh, I love my car, my poor car.”
He told police he had one drink with dinner the night of the crash and blew a BAC of .08 percent. He repeatedly said he hit black ice and lost control, and the other car involved in the crash must have hit the same ice. He was taken to the hospital for minor injuries after the crash, where he said he would speak voluntarily and take a blood test after being read his rights.
to Murphy, an investigation revealed Drue had
been drinking at Koto Restaurant in Colonie where it was determined that he had
4 shots of alcohol, gin and tonics, and beers. He says he
proceeded up the Northway toward Saratoga County when he began texting another
person while driving. As Drue approached what was to become the crime
scene, his speed was approaching 80 miles per hour, as later confirmed by the
NYSP accident reconstruction experts and eye witnesses.
was later determined that Drue had the active byproduct of marijuana THC in his
blood stream in an extremely high quantity — 8.4 nanograms/milliliter. According to authorities,
this level it would affect his reaction time and ability to control his muscle
witnesses to the crash noted that the defendant never utilized his brakes prior
A computer chip was removed from the Volvo Drue was
driving and shipped to Sweden in order for Volvo authorized experts to examine
and provide details as to the information the chip stored prior to impact and
the report confirmed the vehicle's speed at roughly 80 mph.
Drue was arrested on January 4, 2013 at his Halfmoon home. While he was being transported, court documents state Drue spontaneously said, “This is bullsh**. Those kids slammed on their brakes. This is just an accident, nothing more. You just need somebody to parade around for their deaths.” He also continued to insist there were no drugs in his system.
NEWS10 ABC has also learned that Drue has a significant driving record which includes five suspensions, 22 traffic tickets including more than a dozen speeding tickets, and four previous accidents. However, his license was not suspended at the time of the crash.
The Shen students were leaving a sports game when a Volvo driven by Drue hit Stewart's Ford Explorer. Both Christopher Stewart and Deanna Rivers were pronounced dead at the scene. Bailey Wind, a Shaker High School student, and Matthew Hardy have since recuperated from the accident after a long road of recovery.
The community rallied around the victims of this crash. Students say Bailey Wind and Chris Stewart were a couple, and Matt and Deanna were also a couple.