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Lehigh Valley Local News

Driver going 80 mph sentenced in deadly Upper Macungie Township crash

Lehigh County Court house
File photo
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The Lehigh County Courthouse is shown in this file photo.

ALLENTOWN, Pa. — A Breinigsville man who was charged with homicide by vehicle in an Upper Macungie Township car crash a year after it happened was sentenced Friday to 4 to 20 years in prison.

John Frederick Fifield, 21, pleaded guilty May 6 to charges of homicide by vehicle while driving under the influence and aggravated assault by vehicle while driving under the influence, both felonies of the second degree, and other charges.

Lehigh County Judge Anna-Kristie M. Marks imposed the sentence on Fifield.

John Frederick Fifield, then 19, was driving a Jeep Grand Cherokee westbound on Hickory Lane when he hit a southbound vehicle on Snowdrift Road in the middle of the intersection. A third vehicle was also hit.
Lehigh County District Attorney's office release

Upper Macungie Township police said they were called to a three-car crash with injuries at 6:26 p.m. Dec. 19, 2021, at Hickory Lane and Snowdrift Road.

Fifield, then 19, was driving a Jeep Grand Cherokee westbound on Hickory Lane when he hit a southbound vehicle on Snowdrift Road in the middle of the intersection, police said. A third vehicle was also hit.

The driver of the second vehicle, Benjamin Bleiler, was pronounced dead at the scene and his death was ruled accidental by the Lehigh County coroner.

A front-seat passenger in Bleiler’s vehicle, his wife, Erin, suffered serious injuries in the crash, including multiple fractures to her spine, face and ribs.

Bleiler’s two sons also were in the vehicle, but were not physically injured, police said.

Investigation complicated, delayed

Police said an investigation revealed that just prior to the crash, Fifield’s vehicle was traveling in excess of 80 mph. The speed limit on that section of the road is 55 mph.

At the time of the crash, Fifield’s blood tests showed the presence of THC, an active ingredient in marijuana.

Fifield wasn't charged until December 2022. The investigation was apparently delayed and complicated because of fire damage from the car, which made calculating the speed and details of the crash more difficult for investigators.
Then-Lehigh County District Attorney Jim Martin

Fifield wasn't charged until December 2022. The investigation was apparently delayed and complicated because of fire damage from the car, which made calculating the speed and details of the crash more difficult for investigators, then-District Attorney Jim Martin said at the time.

Fifield also was charged with four counts each of recklessly endangering another person, misdemeanors of the second degree; and driving under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance — schedule 1, misdemeanor.

The case was investigated by the Lehigh County Crash Reconstruction Team, and Upper Macungie Township Police Officer Joshua R. Forrester, a member of the team.

It was prosecuted by Chief Deputy District Attorney V. Paul Bernardino III.