Pottstown Man Charged with DUI Homicide in Crash

NORRISTOWN PA – A 30-year-old Pottstown man was arrested and faced preliminarily arraignment Thursday (Sept. 16, 2021) for homicide by vehicle while driving under the influence, and related charges stemming from an Aug. 3 crash in the borough in which a woman was killed, Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele announced.

Symere Butler, who as of Thursday was jailed in the county correctional facility in lieu of $500,000 cash bail, now is scheduled for a Sept. 23 preliminary hearing before Magisterial District Judge Edward Kropp Sr., court records show. Police allege his actions while driving in the borough led to the death of 36-year-old Nicole Benzenhafer.

He is charged with homicide by vehicle while DUI, homicide by vehicle, causing an accident involving death or injury while not licensed, first offense DUI general impairment, first offense DUI involving a controlled substance, driving without a license, driving with a blood alcohol content of .02 or greater with a suspended license, careless driving, careless driving causing unintentional death, reckless driving, driving at unsafe speed, exceeding 25 mph in a residential district, failure to obey a stop sign, operating a vehicle without valid inspection, and driving without insurance.

Police reported they were alerted Aug. 3 at about 10:18 p.m. by a pedestrian that a crash had occurred at nearby Queen and Madison streets, three blocks away. An officer arrived at the scene to find the crash involved a parked Toyota Tacoma truck, a Chevrolet Equinox driven by Benzenhafer, and a Chevrolet Impala driven by Butler.

Benzenhafer had to be extracted from the Equinox and was then transported to Reading Hospital, where she was pronounced dead. Butler crawled out of his vehicle and was transported to Reading Hospital, where he was treated and later released. The Tacoma was legally parked and unoccupied at the time of the crash.

Subsequent investigation of the crash, and reconstruction by Pottstown police and Montgomery County detectives, determined the Impala driven by Butler had been traveling westbound on Queen Street headed toward its intersection with Madison while traveling at speeds between 71 and 73 miles per hour in a 25-mph zone.

Butler’s vehicle then hit the Equinox driven by Benzenhafer in a violent head-on impact, police said, forcing the Equinox to travel 108 feet before coming to a rest facing eastbound in the westbound lane. The Butler vehicle then continued, and struck the parked Tacoma pick-up before coming to a stop.

Toxicology tests conducted on Butler’s blood showed it contained the drugs fentanyl and tetrahydrocannabinol. The investigation also determined Butler’s level of impairment, as well as the speed and manner in which he operated his vehicle without a driver’s license, was the cause of the crash that killed Benzenhafer.

Steele credited Pottstown Police Chief Mick Markovich and his department for their work in the case. It will be prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Bridget Gallagher, a member of the DA’s Pottstown Community Justice Unit.

Photo by Artur Verkhovetskiy via Deposit Photos, used under license