Hickory teen pleads guilty to involuntary manslaughter in connection to 2014 crash

Staff Writer

A Hickory teenager involved in an automobile crash that killed his high school classmate 15 months ago appeared in court once again on Monday, Nov. 30, according to a press release from the district attorney’s office.
David Arthur Engelmann, 18, pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter and driving while impaired during Catawba County Superior Court in connection to the death of 17-year-old Jay Brian Robertson II, a Hickory High School classmate.
The accident that proved fatal for Robertson occurred on Aug. 31, 2014.
Following the court’s plea agreement, Engelmann now faces a 13-25 month suspended sentence, along with 18 months of unsupervised probation while he is a student at SUNY-Binghamton in New York.
Also, there is a stipulation that Engelmann must report to a designated facility in New York and submit to alcohol/drug testing within four hours of receiving notice from his attorney, Steve Brackett, at the request of the District Attorney’s Office. Those results must be turned over to the DA’s Office for review, according to the press release.
Additionally, Engelmann will serve a 60-day split jail sentence in Catawba County. The sentence will cohere with scheduling persistent to Englemann’s college schedule.
Englemann will also be required to pay restitution in the amount of $4,775 to Robertson’s parents within 12 months and Engelmann is not allowed to operate a motor vehicle for the next 12 months, according to the release.
“The public expects to be protected from the criminal actions of people like this defendant,” Assistant District Attorney Lance Sigmon said. “A person’s place in society or their standing amongst their peers does not give them license to act recklessly and without regard for those around them. This Court can send a message to both this defendant and the public. We value human life and expect all of our citizens to abide by the law. Hopefully, someone will listen and heed this example, and in the future an innocent life can be saved.”
“This is a horrible tragedy that impacts all three families. Nobody ever wants to walk in their shoes,” said District Attorney David Learner. “I hope that people understand the enormous impact of a brief mistake or error in judgment that results in this kind of tragedy.”
According to the investigation and accident reconstruction by Hickory Police Department Master Patrol Officer Amanda Efird, Engelmann was driving a Subaru Forester along 6th St. NW in the Viewmont community of Hickory when he allegedly ran off the road, overcorrected and flipped the vehicle. Robertson was ejected from the vehicle through its open sunroof and died as a result of injuries sustained in the crash.
Engelmann, who was 17 at the time of the fatal crash, was traveling at least 49 mph in a 35 mph zone and an open bottle of tequila was found in the vehicle. Investigation by Hickory Police Department revealed that Engelmann’s blood alcohol level was .09.
As facts of the case were being presented, Engelmann sat quietly with his attorney, crying during the proceedings. Brackett told the Court that “words cannot adequately express the remorse (Engelmann) feels.”
“We believe this plea to be in Mr. Engelmann’s best interest and accept it. I think a fair resolution has been reached,” Brackett said.
As he addressed the Court, Robertson’s father Jay was clear that punishment was in order for Engelmann.
“I did not embrace the person responsible for this. There is no forgiveness in my heart,” he said. “He took the one thing from me that I’ll never get back and that’s the love of my son. My son’s life was snuffed out. There’s not a moment every day that I don’t think about my son. I will always cherish the memory of my son but I will not have anything to do with the person who killed him.”