Press

Bail reduced in Fatal I-95 crash

Joseph A. Gambardello Inquirer Staff Writer

A Philadelphia judge reduced bail from $330,000 to $155,000 yesterday for a South Jersey man charged in a drunken-driving crash that killed one man and snarled traffic for hours Friday on I-95.

Steven Hafto, 25, of Berlin Borough, has no record and strong ties to the area, said his attorney, Michael J. Diamondstein, pointing to Hafto’s relatives and a female friend in the courtroom.

But Assistant District Attorney John Doyle said Hafto posed a “risk to public safety” because he had caused the crash under the influence of drugs or alcohol while driving 80 m.p.h. and changing lanes erratically.

Drug and alcohol tests are not complete, but a state trooper said Hafto had failed a sobriety test at the scene, Doyle said.

Municipal Judge Teresa Carr Deni reduced the bail after saying Hafto’s reactions during the sobriety test may have been a result of the crash.

Hafto, who was not at the hearing, has been charged with a string of offenses, including vehicular homicide, involuntary manslaughter, and driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

The crash, near Exit 27, killed Ferdinand Ramirez-Villaneuva, 50, of Philadelphia. His wife, Anna Torres, 49, remained hospitalized yesterday, Doyle said.

Hafto was driving south near Bridge Street, speeding and changing lanes recklessly, when his Chevrolet Monte Carlo smashed into the back of Ramirez-Villaneuva’s pickup truck just before 10 a.m., state police said.

The truck flipped and landed in the northbound lanes, ejecting Ramirez-Villaneuva and Torres. Two cars driving north hit the pickup, but those drivers were not seriously injured, police said.

After hitting the truck, Hafto swerved across two southbound lanes, striking a car driven by a 53-year-old woman and pinning it to the wall. The woman was treated for minor injuries, police said.

A preliminary hearing for Hafto is set for Sept. 24.

Contact staff writer Joseph Gambardello at 215-854-2153 [email protected]