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Montgomery County man admits to causing death of girl, 7, who fell from his pickup truck

NORRISTOWN — During an emotion-filled hearing, the driver of a moving pickup truck from which a 7-year-old girl fell and suffered fatal injuries admitted to a manslaughter charge and was sent to jail under a plea agreement that the little girl’s family said was unacceptable.

Andres Marin, 48, of the 3000 block of Plymouth Rock Road, was sentenced in Montgomery County Court on Wednesday to 6 to 23 months in jail after he pleaded guilty to a felony charge of involuntary manslaughter in connection with the Aug. 22, 2023, traffic incident that claimed the life of 7-year-old Sloane Kwartnik, the daughter of a neighbor.

“This case, it goes without saying, involves an absolutely unimaginable tragedy. Without question, this is every parent’s worst nightmare,” said Judge Risa Vetri Ferman, who accepted the plea agreement.

“This was not a deliberate, malicious act. It was an accident. It was an accident, an accident severe enough to be criminal. Justice requires that the loss of Sloane’s life carries with it a period of incarceration,” Ferman added.

Marin must also complete three years of probation consecutive to parole, meaning he will be under court supervision for about five years. Marin is prohibited from driving for a year and must also pay $6,500 in restitution. As a condition of the sentence, Marin is prohibited from having contact with the victim’s family.

“My mind is now filled with deep regret and sorrow. My heart is empty,” a soft-spoken Marin said before he was handcuffed by sheriff’s deputies and led away to begin serving the sentence, adding he can’t imagine what the Kwartnik family, with whom he once shared a friendship, is feeling. “I lost my friends. I lost my neighbors and I lost your trust in me.”

Andres Marin is escorted by a deputy sheriff from a Montgomery County courtroom on March 13, 2024, to begin serving jail term for involuntary manslaughter in a 7-year-old child's death. (Photo by Carl Hessler Jr. - MediaNews Group)
Andres Marin is escorted by a deputy sheriff from a Montgomery County courtroom on March 13, 2024, to begin serving jail term for involuntary manslaughter in a 7-year-old child’s death. (Photo by Carl Hessler Jr. – MediaNews Group)

A person commits involuntary manslaughter when as a direct result of doing an unlawful or lawful act in a reckless or grossly negligent manner causes the death of another person. Authorities alleged Marin violated vehicle codes by carrying five children in the open truck bed during a ride through the neighborhood.

James Kwartnik, the victim’s father, urged Ferman not to accept “a grossly and inadequate” plea deal.

“It’s not an acceptable sentence,” Kwartnik said during the hearing, adding his family was prepared to go to trial if that’s what it took “to get justice.”

Assistant District Attorney Caroline Goldstein, citing “legal issues in this case,” and defense lawyer Brian J. McMonagle urged the judge to accept the plea agreement.

“To prove involuntary manslaughter in this case we’d have to actually prove that it was a gross deviation from the standard of care, basically more than just ordinary negligence. We thought that could be difficult frankly, under the circumstances, given that clearly there was no intent on this defendant’s behalf of anything happening. There wasn’t really anything prolonged about any type of dangerous behavior on that particular day,” explained First Assistant District Attorney Edward F. McCann Jr.

“So he was willing to take responsibility really from the time of the arrest. He had an incredible amount of remorse. We thought it was necessary that some jail be imposed in this case,” McCann added.

Prosecutors added Marin had no prior record and was somebody who had a good reputation in his once tight-knit neighborhood and community.

“That sentence is no reflection on the value of a little child’s life because you couldn’t give anybody a sentence that would reflect that. We have to strike a balance to try to do the fair and just thing in a courtroom, but the courtroom doesn’t heal the death of a 7-year-old,” McCann said.

The hearing included heartbreaking testimony from Sloane’s parents and grandmother and parents of other children who were in the truck bed and who witnessed their friend’s fatal fall. They described Sloane as their “little princess,” a girl who was “the perfect combination of sweet and sassy” and “spunky.” They said her “future would have been so amazing.”

“You have left us living each day with a huge hole in our lives. She was a happy and healthy little girl when you killed her,” Brandie Kwartnik, Sloane’s mother testified.

“I get not one moment of peace now. It isn’t getting any better and it never will. I don’t get to experience true happiness anymore. The void, that sadness, dominates everything. That’s my life sentence. I will never be the same,” said James Kwartnik, choking back tears.

Truck driven by Andres Marin, where children were loaded in the back for a ride before a girl fell off. (Photo Montgomery County District Attorney's office)
Truck driven by Andres Marin, where children were loaded in the back for a ride before a girl fell off. (Photo Montgomery County District Attorney’s office)

Testimony revealed Marin had taken neighborhood children for rides in the back of his truck in the past. Witnesses testified Marin did not have parental permission to take the children for a drive on the day of the fatality.

Marin was supported in court by his wife, Kerry, and other relatives.

McMonagle described Marin as a devoted husband and father who was loved by the children in the neighborhood.

“He believed it was safe and he made a mistake. This was not a mistake born out of ill will. This is an enormous tragedy. I hope this community can heal,” said McMonagle, adding Marin cooperated with detectives and pleaded guilty to spare the victims, witnesses and his neighbors the trauma of a trial. “Fear not, he has a life sentence. He will never forget this mistake.”

The fatality occurred at around 8 p.m., Aug. 22 in the area of Jolly and Malvern roads in Plymouth Township. Detectives relied on interviews with the children and home surveillance camera footage to piece together what happened.

Authorities determined that Sloane, along with four other neighborhood children, ages 6 to 11, were riding in the back of Marin’s white 1996 Subaru Sambar truck.

The five children got into the bed of the Sambar truck, which had side walls that measured just 11.5 inches tall and were driving around the neighborhood, with the children moving around the back of the truck bed. The investigation found that Sloane leaned over the side wall, fell and struck her head on the pavement, then was run over by the truck, according to the criminal complaint filed by county Detective Anthony Caso and Plymouth Township Detective Joseph LaPenta III.

Marin picked up the injured girl, drove to her parents’ house, and then drove the girl and her father to Einstein Montgomery County, arriving at 8:14 p.m., according to police. The 7-year-old girl was pronounced dead at 8:43 p.m. An autopsy determined that the cause of death was blunt impact injuries and the manner of death was homicide.

Source: Berkshire mont

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