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Surviving Driver In Crash That Killed Monmouth Principal Sentenced

Dennis Smentkowski, the driver behind the wheel who survived the 2008 crash that left the leader of a school in Little Silver dead, is sentenced to 41 months in prison for involuntary manslaughter.

The Scales of Justice
Flickr user srqpix

Donald Merce, the 58-year-old principal of Markham Place School, died on impact when Smentkowski’s SUV drifted over the double-yellow line on Oceanport Avenue near the gates of Fort Monmouth around 7 AM on May 6 of that year. Merce was en route to work at the time.

Smentkowski admitted being impaired by Ambien, the sleep aid also known as Zolpidem and a Schedule IV controlled substance, according to investigators. He confessed to taking four 12.5-milligram doses, four times the recommended amount.

The sentence, which includes three years of supervised release, was meted out today by U.S. District Judge Joel Pisano in Trenton, according to New Jersey U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman. The case unfolded in a federal court because the crash site was at Fort Monmouth, under federal jurisdiction.

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