Township Man Gets State Prison for Crash That Left Passenger Paralyzed

Judge tells Stephan Ernst: 'You did take his life. It was the doctors that saved him.'

A Lower Macungie man was sentenced to state prison Tuesday for driving drunk when his car crashed in Allentown in 2012, leaving his passenger paralyzed from the chest down.

Online court records show that Stephan Ernst, 33, got three to 10 years in state prison in a sentence handed down by Lehigh County Judge Maria Dantos.

Referring to Ernst's passenger in the Oct. 3, 2012 crash, Dantos told Ernst, "You did take his life. It was the doctors that saved him," according to a story posted on LehighValleyLive.

The records show that Ernst, of 5335 Juliet Circle, pleaded guilty in November to a charge of aggravated assault by vehicle while DUI. Other charges, including DUI first offense, recklessly endangering another person and reckless driving, were dropped in the plea agreement.

Ernst was driving 75 mph on Lehigh Street when his car hit a utility pole. The car's passenger side then struck a traffic light pole. Passenger Jason Labowski was left paralyzed, according to a Morning Call story.

Ernst's blood-alcohol content was 0.14 percent, The Call story said. The legal limit for being intoxicated is 0.08 percent.

Prosecuting the case was assistant district attorney V. Paul Bernardino III. Representing Ernst was Philadelphia attorney Kevin Hextall.


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