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Charges Filed in Deadly Hit-and-Run
2018-09-20

UPDATED SEPT. 19 - 5:10 P.M.

 

            Charges have been filed against a District Township man in the death of an East Greenville man in a July crash on Route 663, in Upper Hanover Township.

            Steven Bernard Rokita, 50, faces two felony counts related to the death of Bill Bender, a drug charge and seven summary offenses from the July 23 incident.

            The state police and the Montgomery County District Attorney's Office filed the charges Tuesday afternoon in the Red Hill court of District Judge Maureen Coggins. Rokita is charged with two counts of accidents involving death or personal injury and accident where the victim dies, both second degree felonies, along with one misdemeanor for drug paraphernalia.

            The summary offenses include attempting to pass on the right, follow too closely, failure to drive at a safe speed, careless driving, failure to stop and provide his information or render aid, failure to notify police and giving false information to authorities, according to information posted on a state judicial website.

            Bender, 38, who died in the three-vehicle accident, was driving south on Route 663 towards Pennsburg when his 2004 black Honda Civic was hit from behind by an unknown vehicle immediately before Northgate Boulevard.

            The Civic, which was propelled into the opposing lane of traffic, was then struck on the passenger side by a 2003 gold Buick LeSabre driven by Edward Kabakjian, 84, of Pennsburg. Kabakjian was transported from the scene with "moderate injuries" according to law enforcement officials.

            Bender, the father of four and known as a talented mechanic, died as a result of injuries sustained in the crash, which occurred at 4:43 p.m.

            The striking vehicle, described as orange/brown or faded red, fled the scene and was last seen traveling south on Route 663 towards Pennsburg, according to a news release from the state police's Skippack barracks. An investigation determined that the fleeing vehicle was identified as a red Ford Fusion, according to information disseminated Tuesday afternoon.

            Rokita has had several recent brushes with the law. In May of 2017, he pleaded guilty to DUI and reckless endangerment in Berks County Common Pleas Court from an incident in Pike Township 11 months earlier. Judge Eleni Dimitriou Geishauser sentenced him to sixth months to five years in jail. He was ordered to complete 100 hours of community service and was immediately entered into the work release program, according to information posted on a state judicial website.

            In March of 2017, Rokita pleaded guilty to a charge of retail theft in Douglass Township from October of 2016 and was sentenced to three years of probation in the Montgomery County Common Pleas Court by Judge Gail Weilheimer, according to information posted on the judicial site. His supervision was transferred to Berks County on Feb. 28.

 

            An arraignment in the Upper Hanover case, before Coggins, has been scheduled for 9:15 a.m. Thursday, according to the state police.


 

 

 

 

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