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Addict Sentenced for Crashing Car into Home During Overdose

June 27, 2018

Contact: David A. Keightly Jr., 215.348.6342, dakeightly@buckscounty.org

Edward O'Brien
  Edward J. O'Brien Jr.

A passed-out heroin addict whose car plowed into a Levittown couple’s house was sent to state prison Monday.

The impact threw one of the elderly victims across the living room, inflicting severe shoulder injuries from which he still is recovering.

The motorist, 22-year-old Edward John O’Brien Jr., entered an open guilty plea in Bucks County Common Pleas Court to aggravated assault while driving under the influence, aggravated assault by vehicle, driving under the influence and several lesser charges.

Judge Wallace H. Bateman Jr. sentenced him to one to two years in state prison and four years of concurrent probation. He also ordered O’Brien to pay $2,700 in restitution and a $1,000 fine.

He must continue with addiction treatment throughout, Bateman said, citing O’Brien’s need for rehabilitation and the public’s need for protection.

“You could have killed yourself and you could have killed others,” Bateman said. “At this point, the drug has taken over your life.”

Shortly after 6 p.m. on Dec. 31, 2017, O’Brien’s 2016 Honda Civic left the roadway in the first block of Gun Road in Bristol Township. It crossed about 50 yards of snow-covered ground, crashing through sliding glass doors into Mary and Albert Albright’s living room.

The Honda slammed a couch that Mary Albright had just left and struck a lounge chair where Albert Albright sat.

“I saw bright lights, and then there was an explosion,” Albert Albright, 80, told Bateman. “I was thrown across the room.”

“We should be dead. It was a miracle,” added Mary Albright, 76. “I mean, the car hit the back of his chair. I took six steps away from where I had been sitting … We thought we were under attack.”

By then, O’Brien was unconscious. While driving he had pulled his car over to inject himself with what he believed to be heroin, then drove on. He overdosed, passing out before the car barreled into the Albrights’ house.

Police revived O’Brien with two doses of naxolone. He was out on bail on two drug possession charges at the time, and had cocaine and fentanyl in his blood.

Amid the wreckage and confusion, the Albrights’ dog got out and was killed by a passing vehicle.

“The fact that I put two innocent people’s lives in danger and could have killed them or myself doesn’t sit right with me,” he told Bateman. “…I just want the opportunity to get my life back together and to get help.”

Addicted to heroin for years, O’Brien said both of his parents were addicts, and his father abandoned him young.

“I didn’t have the best cards dealt to me growing up,” he said. “I’ve seen things that a child shouldn’t see …. I don’t really like myself [and] the only way to numb that is through drugs.”

He apologized to the Albrights. “I’m sorry I brought my chaos and my pain into your house and flipped your lives upside down,” he said.

The Albrights said they wanted O’Brien sentenced sternly, though Mary Albright expressed sympathy. “My heart goes out to Edward,” she said, “… I pray that he will choose to get the help that is out there.”

Said her husband: “I think he should have to pay for what he did and then get help.”

Defense attorney Thomas Logan urged leniency, saying O’Brien “had no mean spirit toward” the Albrights. Deputy District Attorney David A. Keightly Jr. countered that he heavily damaged the Albrights’ home and Albert Albright’s shoulder, possibly permanently.

Like Keightly, Bateman said he was troubled that O’Brien overdosed while awaiting trial for other drug offenses.

“I think you are remorseful,” the judge said. “It is unusual for people who have been victimized to come in and say, `I understand.’ … They came in and said we recognize this young man has a drug problem and needs to deal with it.”

The case was investigated by the Bristol Township Police Department.

Office of the District Attorney
Bucks County Justice Center
100 N. Main Street
Doylestown, PA 18901 
Phone: 215-348-6344 
Fax: 215-348-6299

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