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Truck driver gets decades in prison for fatal crash that killed Middletown man, infant daughter

By Dan Miller

danmiller@pressandjournal.com

717-944-4628
Posted 8/6/19

HARRISBURG — Truck driver Jack Edward Satterfield of McComb, Mississippi, will serve 28 1/2 to 63 years in prison for the fiery crash last fall that killed three people, including a father and …

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Truck driver gets decades in prison for fatal crash that killed Middletown man, infant daughter

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HARRISBURG — Truck driver Jack Edward Satterfield of McComb, Mississippi, will serve 28 1/2 to 63 years in prison for the fiery crash last fall that killed three people, including a father and his child who lived in Middletown.

Dauphin County Court Judge Deborah E. Curcillo handed down the sentence Tuesday. He faced a minimum of 9 to 18 years and up to 81 years.

Satterfield was drunk behind the wheel and driving a tractor-trailer that plowed into a line of vehicles stopped in a construction zone near mile post 47 in the left-hand northbound lane of Interstate 83.

Satterfield, now 30, had a blood-alcohol content of 0.152 percent nearly three hours after the crash, which occurred at about 8:30 p.m., according to law enforcement officials.

A video from inside the cab of his tractor-trailer showed that Satterfield never applied his brakes and that only the impact of the collision stopped his vehicle. He was driving 63 mph at the time, according to District Attorney Fran Chardo.

One of the first cars Satterfield hit was a 1996 Eagle Vision driven by 24-year-old Zachary Lybrand, and carrying 16-month of Elliana, the daughter of Zachary and his wife Jessica Lybrand who all lived in Middletown. Zachary and Elliana died from smoke inhalation and burns.

Jessica Lybrand brought photos to the sentencing, including a large poster of a smiling Elliana sitting in a stroller.

“She was in the process of taking over the world,” Lybrand said, looking at Satterfield and telling him: “I want you to know about the people you murdered.”

“Jack Satterfield singlehandedly destroyed the lives of 30-plus people,” Lybrand said. “He will never serve enough time to replace the things he stole.”

The impact caused a chain reaction that involved 12 vehicles and also resulted in the death of Ethan Van Bochoven, a 22-year-old Messiah College senior from Pompton Plains, New Jersey.

Van Bochoven’s father Michael, reading a statement on behalf of himself and Ethan’s mother, said that no amount of sentence can bring Ethan back, however: “We do hope the sentence matches the magnitude of the crime.”

Chardo in comments before the sentencing said that while no punishment can provide “full justice” for those harmed by Satterfield’s actions, the district attorney noted that “if ever there was a case” for applying the maximum sentence, “this is it.”

Citing a presentence investigation done after Satterfield’s plea, Chardo said that Satterfield has “minimized” his responsibility for what happened, contending the DA said that the crash would have happened “regardless of his actions.”

Chardo said that Satterfield also “minimized” his drinking and lied to police about how much he drank. He has had two misconducts since being in the county prison, one for being in possession of pills in prison and another for having a weapon found on his person, according to Chardo.

Statements read by other victims of the crash, including others who were injured, as well as the loved ones of those who died, in nearly all cases called for Satterfield to receive the maximum sentence.

Several victims told how Satterfield immediately after the crash panicked over how he was going to lose his job, and then left the scene without offering to help anyone.

A letter written by one of the victims, Brandon Updike, and read by a court employee told Satterfield “I hope you think of this every day.”

Updike and his girlfriend were in a pickup truck that was wrecked in the accident. Both were injured physically, but both of their letters also spoke of emotional scars that will traumatize them for the rest of their lives.

“I want you to suffer, I want you to cry, I want you to look in the mirror and just ask why — it only took 13 seconds” for it all to happen, Updike wrote in the letter.

Satterfield throughout the proceeding sat at the table leaning forward, slowly rocking back and forth. Eventually he put his head on the table and could be heard sobbing from time to time.

Satterfield’s lawyer, public defender Paul Watson Muller, contended that Satterfield had “sincerely been remorseful” and had cooperated with police from the beginning.

His guilt over the accident was such that he was placed on suicide watch at the county prison, Muller said.

“Jack is not a bad person,” Muller said. He noted that Satterfield’s father was bipolar and a cocaine addict, and that his mother had “a long history of alcoholism although she is now clean and sober.”

Given that upbringing, Muller said it was “almost unavoidable” that Satterfield would abuse drugs and alcohol and would have mental health issues.

Satterfield has a 9-year old daughter who lives in California with her mother, and a 3-year old son with his fiancee back in McComb.

“He has children. He recognizes the devastation he has caused,” Muller said.

In a letter Satterfield wrote that Muller read for the court, Satterfield said: “I can make all the excuses I want (but) I caused a horrible accident.”

However, he said: “I’m not a bad person” and not “a monster” as the DA was making him out to be, Satterfield wrote in the letter. “The guilt is overwhelming. I am sorry from the bottom of my soul for my actions on that fateful day.”

But Curcillo before applying the sentence noted that Satterfield’s actions “clearly showed a reckless and intentional disregard” for life. “No sentence I give will bring them back.”

Satterfield made “a conscious decision” to drink and drive and turn his tractor-trailer into “a lethal weapon,” the judge said. “To make matters worse, he stopped and purchased more alcohol” after he had already been drinking, and then after the accident “ran from the scene” and tried to lose himself in the crowd to avoid being caught, she added.

Curcillo also as part of the sentence ordered Satterfield pay $16,048.79 in restitution to go to the crime victims’ compensation fund.

“The nature of the offense called out for a sentence such as this,” Chardo said immediately afterward.

Several of the victims in their statements asked the court for a lifetime revocation of Satterfield’s license so that he can never drive again, even if he gets out of prison in time to do so.

However, it is not legally permissible for the court to enter such an order, Chardo said. “PennDOT (Pennsylvania Department of Transportation) will take his license for each of these offenses and it doesn’t start until after” Satterfield gets out of prison.

These license revocations would also be honored by other states, Chardo said.

Jessica Lybrand in late October had a lawsuit filed in Philadelphia County. The lawsuit seeks damages from Satterfield, the company he drove for — Greentree Logistics of Lakeville, Minnesota — and J.D. Eckman Inc. of Atglen, the company that was awarded the $104.7 million contract for the I-83 construction project.

Satterfield, who has been held without bail in Dauphin County Prison since being arrested after the accident, pleaded guilty to the charges in June.

The charges included three counts of homicide by vehicle while DUI, three counts of homicide by vehicle, three counts of leaving the scene of a fatal crash, and related offenses.