Police: Pa. firefighter high on fentanyl when he caused wreck that injured family
Off-duty Scranton firefighter faces two counts of DUI, four counts of recklessly endangering another person and various traffic citations
By Joseph Kohut
The Times-Tribune, Scranton, Pa.
SCRANTON, Pa. — An off-duty Scranton firefighter on house arrest for a 2018 DUI was high on fentanyl when he collided with a family of four in Moosic three months ago, police said Monday.
Kyle F. Armbruster, 32, of 23 Marion Circle, Throop, turned himself in at the Lackawanna County Courthouse shortly before noon Monday to face two counts of driving under the influence, four counts of recklessly endangering another person and various traffic citations.
This is the third time Armbruster has been charged with DUI in as many years. Police found fentanyl in his system during his last DUI in May 2018, after a crash on Interstate 81 in Luzerne County.
Armbruster’s family told police he struggles with an addiction to heroin, according to a criminal complaint filed Monday by Moosic Officers James Decker and Jason O’Hora.
One of the DUI counts filed Monday is a felony with a mandatory minimum sentence of one year in jail, District Attorney Mark Powell said. He declined to comment further because it is a pending case.
On April 10, police said Armbruster collided head-on with Connor Knott, 21, Kaila Kays, 23, and their two children — a 3-year-old and a 9-month-old — in the 4400 block of Birney Avenue about 9:30 p.m.
A crash investigation found that Armbruster’s Ford Explorer was traveling 61 mph just before the airbags deployed.
Since the crash, the two adults have needed physical therapy and the infant has had numerous bouts of vomiting, according to the complaint.
At the scene, Armbruster had difficulty walking and smelled of alcohol. A bottle of Evan Williams Honey bourbon had broken inside his Ford Explorer.
Armbruster gave the police conflicting accounts of what happened. At first, he said he came upon the crash while returning home from a certification class in Wilkes-Barre. Later, while at Geisinger Community Medical Center, he said he swerved to miss a deer, hit a wall and then saw another accident nearby.
However, a witness told officers that he noticed Armbruster’s Ford swerving back and forth while they drove north on Interstate 81. Armbruster got off at Exit 180 for Moosic. The witness followed and saw that the Ford had collided with another vehicle. A woman was screaming for help.
Armbruster was on house arrest for his prior DUI at the time of the crash.
Armbruster has been a city firefighter since Sept. 20, 2016, and earned $47,988.51 in 2018.
Whether he is still a firefighter was unclear Monday. Attempts to reach city Fire Chief Pat DeSarno, city solicitor Jessica Eskra, labor attorney Edwin “Ned” Abrahamsen and Armbruster’s attorney, Christopher J. Szewczyk, were unsuccessful.
Armbruster was held in lieu of $10,000 bail set by Magisterial District Judge Paul J. Ware.
A preliminary hearing is scheduled for 11 a.m. July 18.
©2019 The Times-Tribune (Scranton, Pa.)