Reading police have charged a 23-year-old Wyomissing man with vehicle homicide following an eight-month investigation of a Centre Park crash last fall that fatally injured his 1-year-old son and seriously injured another toddler.
Isaiah M. Rakiem of the 700 block of Old Mill Road was free on $30,000 bail to await a hearing following arraignment June 22 before District Judge Tonya A. Butler.
In addition to homicide by vehicle, Rakiem faces charges of aggravated assault by vehicle, causing an accident while not properly licensed, driving under a suspended license, endangering the welfare of children and failing to secure a child in a child passenger seat.
According to the probable cause affidavit filed by Criminal Investigator Steve Valdez:
The two-vehicle crash occurred Nov. 19 about 10 p.m. at Oley Street and Centre Avenue.
An SUV driven by Ebrima G. Jarjusey, 46, of Reading was westbound on Oley Street when it collided with a pickup truck driven southbound on Centre Avenue by Rakiem.
Jarjusey, who was the lone occupant of his vehicle, was taken to Reading Hospital by ambulance for unspecified injuries
The pickup truck had seven occupants: Rakiem; three women; and three children, ages 1, 2, and 11.
The 1-year-old, Mikaal Rahiem-Soto, Wyomissing, was later pronounced dead at the scene. The 2-year-old suffered what appeared to be serious injuries.
An 11-year-old girl was treated for minor injuries in Reading Hospital.
Both vehicles sustained heavy front-end damage. Officers secured the crash scene as a crime scene.
Valdez was called to the scene and asked for assistance from the state police crash construction unit.
When he checked the interior of the pickup truck, he could find no child safety seat, nor was one anywhere in the crime scene.
Valdez interviewed occupants of both vehicles.
He learned the 1-year-old boy was one of four passengers riding in the back seat of the extended cab of the Jeep Gladiator pickup truck. The seat was designed for three passengers with restraint systems.
Rahiem-Soto and the 2-year-old girl were the middle passengers in the back seat.
Rakiem told Valdez that he was driving southbound on Centre Avenue through the intersection. There is no stop sign or signal for Centre Avenue traffic.
The SUV, which had a stop sign, proceeded into the intersection and struck the truck in the southeast travel lane of Centre Avenue.
Investigators obtained security camera footage of the crash. It showed the SUV stopped briefly at the stop sign on Oley Street before proceeding into the intersection.
Although Rakiem had the right-of-way, he was speeding. Investigators determined the pickup truck was traveling 43 mph over the 35 mph posted speed limit.
They said the lack of proper restraints — the only child safety seat found at the scene was in the covered bed of the truck —contributed to the death of Rahiem-Soto and serious injuries to the 2-year-old.
The pathologist who performed the autopsy determined Rahiem-Soto died of chest injuries. The Berks County coroner’s office ruled the manner of death a homicide.
Source: Berkshire mont