Father of unlicensed teen driver to plead guilty in fatal Pennsylvania crash

Reuters News
Posted: Jul 09, 2015 8:05 AM

By David DeKok

HARRISBURG, Pa. (Reuters) - A New York man was set to plead guilty to undisclosed criminal charges on Thursday after he let his 15-year-old daughter, an unlicensed driver, drive his SUV, which she crashed in the Pennsylvania Poconos, killing three young friends.

Michael Ware, 54, of Scarsdale, New York, withdrew his request for a trial late last month and said he would accept a plea deal offered by Wayne County District Attorney Janine Edwards.

Edwards has declined to disclose details of the deal prior to Ware's scheduled appearance on Thursday before Judge Raymond Hamill in Wayne County Court of Common Pleas in Honesdale.

Ware's lawyer, Robert Reno, did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.

According to state police, Ware allowed his daughter, Julia, to take his Chevy Suburban SUV on Aug. 30 to meet her friends, all students at Council Rock High School South in Holland, Pennsylvania, outside Philadelphia. The teens were all in the Poconos because their parents vacationed there.

The rollover crash occurred about a mile from the Ware vacation home in the Poconos. It was not the first time Ware had let her drive, police said.

Three boys killed in the crash were classmates Cullen Keffer and Shamus Digney, both 15 and from Holland, Pennsylvania, and Ryan Lesher, 15, of Churchville. Three other teens, including Julia Ware, were injured but survived.

The victims' families have demanded stiff punishment for Ware and his daughter, Julia, now 16, whom they call a murderer.

Edwards said there has been no negative reaction from the families to the proposed plea agreement.

"They have been informed from day 1 of our plea offer," Edwards told Reuters.

Julia Ware was sentenced as a juvenile in May to probation until she is 21, and ordered to pay more than $40,000 in restitution, and complete community service. She must also write letters of apology to the victims' families.

(Editing by Barbara Goldberg; Editing by Sandra Maler)