When Upper Southampton Police Officer Albert Costantini arrived at the accident scene on the morning of New Year’s Day, he said he saw a hysterical Catherine Amon leaning in the window of the sports car that had flipped on its side.
“She was yelling, ‘Help him, help him! You have to help him!” Costantini said.
He said as he walked closer to the car on the 1800 block of Bristol Road he saw that the roof of the white Mazda 6 had been peeled back, and there was a man inside, laying across the console with several tree branches strewn about him.
“He had a large laceration to his head and he didn’t have a pulse,” said Costantini.
The man was Raymond Bloemker III. According to court documents, Bloemker was Amon’s passenger following a night of partying. Bloemker did not survive the crash, which occurred around 6:30 a.m. Jan. 1, and was pronounced dead at the scene.
Costantini recounted the details of his investigation into the accident during his testimony at Amon’s preliminary hearing Monday afternoon.
Following the accident, Amon was charged with homicide by vehicle, reckless driving, operating a vehicle with a suspended license and a number of other DUI related offenses.
Amon sat silently behind the defendant’s table in her jail-issued jump suit with her head bowed slightly as several witnesses testified during the hour-long hearing in District Justice William Benz’s Richboro courtroom.
Northampton Police Detective Charles Pinkerton said an autopsy revealed Bloemker died from blunt force trauma, a direct result of injuries sustained in the crash.
He said Amon was taken from the scene of the accident by ambulance to St. Mary Medical Center, where various blood samples were obtained. After she was released, just a few hours later, she voluntarily came to the police department for questioning.
Pinkerton said Amon’s eyes appeared blood shot and she smelled of alcohol.
He said when he questioned her about the accident, she admitted to smoking some marijuana as well as drinking five beers and a glass of champagne the prior evening. He said she was not sure what had happened that morning on the road, and that she told him she thought she might have slipped on black ice.
Dr. Theodore Siek, the toxicology director for the Bucks County Crime Lab, testified Amon had a 0.114 blood alcohol content in blood that was drawn around 8:30 a.m., approximately two hours after the fatal crash. He said there was also evidence of marijuana metabolites in her system.
Pinkerton said a search of the car revealed a compact mirror with cocaine residue, a small amount of marijuana, a purple pipe with burnt residue and a partially smoked joint stuffed inside a red and black matchbox.
Defense Attorney Michael Parlow argued there was no investigation of the crash itself. He said the law stipulates that one cannot be charged with homicide by vehicle simply on the premise of DUI.
“There is no connection here, no evidence that driving under the influence lead to (Bloemker’s) death,” said Parlow. “No evidence.”
Deputy District Attorney David Zellis did not agree with Parlow’s interpretation of the law and called Amon’s decision to drive that morning reckless.
“Her judgment was impaired the moment she left her friend’s house, put her keys in her vehicle and decided to drive,” he said.
According to court documents, this was not Amon’s first DUI charge and at the time of the incident, she was driving with a suspended license.
Benz closed the hearing by ruling that Amon be held over for trial on all charges.
The gallery of the district courtroom was packed with family and friends of the deceased, including Bloemker’s ex-wife Sandie, who wept silently during parts of the testimony.
“He left behind two children,” she said, in an interview after the hearing. “This is just so senseless.”
Outside of the courtroom, Sandie hugged Barbara Heim.
Heim said her brother Frank Rees died as a result of injuries he suffered while driving with Amon in 2009.
Heim said the two were arguing during a ride home from Parx Casino, when somehow her brother wound up outside of the vehicle.
“They found him the next morning,” she said. “Frank was brain dead.”
Heim said the police told her they were not able to file charges; Amon was never investigated nor charged with any crime in relation to Rees’ death.
“I feel bad for this gentleman and for his family,” she said. “Maybe if something was done following my brother’s death, this tragedy could have been avoided.”
Amon was returned to Bucks County Prison, where she will remain incarcerated in lieu of $500,000 bail.
An arraignment has been scheduled for April 1 at the Bucks County Court House in Doylestown.