Captain: Police ‘forever changed’ after fatal crash

The city police are reeling after state police released details of a crash that involved one of their own patrolmen that killed a 42-year-old city man the evening of Jan. 12.

A police cruiser driven by Patrolman Jonathan Deprenda, 32, hired in 2011, smashed into a car driven James David Robinson, 42, who pulled into the path of the oncoming cruiser which was traveling at 88 miles per hour on East Third and Railway streets about 6:50 p.m., according to state police reconstruction specialists.

“Deprenda was responding to back up a rookie city officer’s radio transmission of having a suspect at gunpoint,” said city Police Capt. Timothy Miller Thursday at an impromptu news conference. “Deprenda was responding to assist a fellow city officer who had been involved in a vehicle pursuit.”

“All of use are deeply troubled with information released by the state police,” Miller said. Now, the investigation remains in the hands of Lycoming County District Attorney Eric R. Linhardt who has asked for additional information from state police before he decides how to proceed.

Following Linhardt’s decision, Miller said, the department will evaluate the facts and act accordingly.

Miller said he, his colleagues and the public are struggling to come to terms with the crash.

“The Williamsport Bureau of Police will forever be changed by this tragic accident,” he said.

Miller was especially affected because, he said, 17 years ago as a patrolman with another department he witnessed a man die in a vehicle fire as a result of a traffic crash.

“I was unable to save him and it haunts me to this day,” Miller said.

Following the death of Robinson, Miller said he spent a portion of the early morning hours at the emergency room as memories once forgotten came back.

“It could have been any of our loved ones instead of Mr. Robinson,” Miller said.

Miller declined to take any questions after his statement on the steps of City Hall.