Twenty-two year-old Derek Seber wept as he entered a Washington County courtroom Monday. The Norwich University student from Maryland is charged with driving drunk and killing one of his classmates.
"I just want to say how sorry my client feels for the terrible tragedy that occurred here," said Douglas Kallen, Seber's lawyer.
Tragedy that stemmed from a party on Winch Hill Road in Northfield. Beer cans still linger outside the home. Police say on Saturday night it was packed with at least 100 students -- many underage. Twenty year-old Logan O'Neill, who also attends Norwich, allegedly hosted the party, telling police he knew kids in attendance were underage. O'Neill claims he tried to end the party as it was getting out of hand.
Police say Seber left the party at O'Neill's home early Sunday morning. He and seven other classmates piled into his Acura sedan. "There were at least three individuals sitting on the laps of others," said Northfield Police Dept. Sgt.Chuck Satterfield.
That included 18 year-old Renee Robbins of Michigan. The Norwich freshman died at the scene. Her father, a Massachusetts State Trooper, grieved in the courtroom. Police say no one was wearing a seat belt and Seber had an elevated blood alcohol level. "He was about two and-a-half times the limit," Sgt. Satterfield said.
According to police paperwork, a student who witnessed the crash told investigators Seber was going 50 to 60 miles per hour, passing other cars on the windy country road. Another said, "there is no way he's going to make that turn." Tragically, the car loaded with young people slammed into a tree less than a mile from the party.
"The defendant fled the scene. He didn't get very far, but he did run away when emergency vehicles were detected or on the way," said Washington County State's Attorney, Tom Kelly.
Kelly says Seber was uncooperative at the hospital and even tried to escape through an emergency exit. Seber's lawyer says his client has never been in trouble before. "You have a young man who attended Westpoint. He was top in his class at his Jesuit high school, with absolutely no criminal record," Douglas Kallen said.
Seber was released into the custody of his parents. He has a curfew and must not drive or consume alcohol. He has voluntarily decided to leave Norwich University. Logan O'Neill also plead not guilty to charges related to hosting an underage drinking party.
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