Driver who struck Wunder Wiener cart pleads guilty in court
The driver of the 2003 Toyota Sequoia that crashed into and destroyed the Wunder Wiener hot dog stand on June 11 plead guilty in court on Wednesday to careless driving.
The other charges against Mark Poplawski of Lacey Township were dropped as a result of a plea bargain.
Poplawski must also pay a $206.00 fine and $33.00 in court costs for the careless driving charge, according to Berkeley Township Court Administrator Jesse Jenkins Office.
He was charged back in June by Berkeley Township Police with careless driving, driving in an unsafe manner, failure to exhibit documents and failure to maintain lane.
According to a police report, Poplawski hit a utility pole and dragged it just over 40 feet before hitting the Wunder Wiener stand with owner and Beachwood Councilman Gerry LaCrosse, 75, still inside.
The impact pushed the structure 22 feet and turned it at a 45-degree angle.
The crash also took out a utility pole, forcing the closure of Route 9 on that rainy and overcast June morning.
Poplawski initially told Berkeley Police that he may have fallen asleep behind the wheel but then changed his story.
According to the police report obtained by Townsquare Media New Jersey, he told the responding Berkeley officer, Patrolman Michael Bulwinski, that "he was tired and may have fallen asleep behind the wheel."
Poplawski later told Bulwinski that he was returning from dropping his son at school in Toms River and didn't remember falling asleep or the crash.
"Mr. Poplawski stated he last remembers seeing Dunkin Doughnuts (sic) then heard three loud crashes and observed that he crashed into the structure. I observed Mr. Poplawski was wearing a neck brace, however he was able to rotate his neck," Bulwinski wrote in his report.
Gerry LaCrosse had multiple surgeries following the crash from internal bleeding before complications arose after the first operation after doctors tried to remove his ventilator.
In court on Wednesday, James Butler, Poplawksi’s attorney, said his client has no memory of the accident, according to Jersey Shore Online and confirmed by a Berkeley Township source.
“It was not an intentional act,” Butler said. “My client doesn’t remember. He can’t put on the record what occurred because he can’t exactly remember.”
LaCrosse’s daughter Michelle Schiel, reportedly called Poplawski “lucky” for having no memory of what happened that morning.
“I remember seeing my father bloody in the ambulance,” Schiel said. “I still feel that every single day of my life. It was a careless act that could have been avoided. I feel angry inside all the time. I see it, I feel it. It must be nice to not remember.”
Robert Rosenberg was in court as Gerry LaCrosse’s attorney.
The court session on Wednesday concluded the trial on the charges, any further potential court action would have to be done in civil court should LaCrosse choose to move in that direction.
The good news for Jersey Shore residents is Gerry is already planning to re-open the stand but is looking to place it farther back off of Route 9.
Previous reporting from Dan Alexander was used in this article.
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