head on crash | 

Irishman who seriously injured four teen girls in horror smash in US admits being drunk

Shane Brolly accelerated more than 70 miles per hour before slamming into a 2019 Mazda carrying four students
Shane Brolly

Shane Brolly

Neil Fetherstonhaugh

An Irishman who seriously injured four teenage girls when he smashed head-on into their vehicle in Philadelphia last year, has admitted that he was intoxicated at the time of the smash.

Shane Brolly (24), from Dungiven, pleaded guilty to a long list of charges, including five first-degree felonies, before Judge Jeffrey Finley in Bucks County Court on Thursday.

Brolly faces a potential maximum sentence of 20 years on each of the five felonies alone.

However, sentencing has been deferred until a pre-sentencing report is completed.

An earlier court heard how Brolly accelerated more than 70 miles per hour before slamming into a 2019 Mazda CX5 carrying four Neshaminy High students, pushing it 50 feet back.

The girls – known as the Neshaminy Four – were seriously injured and taken to hospital. Brolly, along with his passenger who also suffered serious injuries.

The victims were all 17 and students at Neshaminy High School when the accident occurred.

Three of the four teens and their families attended the hearing, but did not speak in court.

They will be able to offer victim impact statements at his sentencing.

Julia Aquilone was driving the car Brolly struck and was the most seriously injured.

She said she felt "a little overwhelmed" at hearing the details of the accident repeated in court.

The scene of the smash

The scene of the smash

She recently underwent another surgery for the injuries she suffered, and plans to speak at sentencing.

Following the accident, community members organized multiple fundraisers for the families including a GoFundMe campaign started by a Northampton couple who helped rescue the girls that raised more than $150,000 toward the families' medical expenses.

Brolly, a Philadelphia resident, faced 16 felony charges plus misdemeanors and summary offenses resulting from the March 2021 accident. He remains in Bucks County jail in lieu of 10% of $975,000 bail, which was originally set at $10 million.

Brolly was illegally living in the United States on an expired work visa when, while intoxicated and speeding, he attempted to illegally pass another northbound car on Bridgetown Pike in Northampton and struck a southbound 2019 Mazda CX5 carrying the teens.

Three passengers in the car Brolly attempted to pass were not injured.

Toxicology tests results found Brolly had a blood alcohol content of .21, more than twice the legal limit for driving in Pennsylvania.

At his preliminary hearing last year, where all charges against him were held for trial, Brolly’s injured passenger testified that he and Brolly had been drinking alcoholic beverages for at least six hours and Brolly had struck a parked car while driving to the last bar before the accident.

His passenger had earlier testified that Brolly collected him in his cousin’s red pickup truck at around 4pm the day of the accident.

They picked up a case of White Claw seltzer each along with some Natural Light beers before driving to a golf range where they consumed some of the beverages, he said.

After this, they headed to a bar in downtown Philadelphia and consumed one drink each before driving to a northeast Philadelphia bar at around 8pm, where they continued drinking.

Witness Tiffany Zaborwski, who was in the same bar that evening, testified that she did not know Brolly but had noticed that he was drunk and asked him and his friends not to drive.

“You could tell he was drunk,” she said.

Police witnesses testified that Brolly had a blood alcohol content of 2.1 when he crashed into the car the girls were travelling in just after 10pm.

Authorities allege that open and unopened alcoholic beverages were found in Brolly’s truck the night of the accident and that he smelled strongly of alcohol.

The posted speed limit in that section of Bridgetown Pike is 45 mph, but an accident reconstruction expert testified that five seconds before impact Brolly’s borrowed pickup truck accelerated from 57 to 70 mph and there was no evidence he applied the brakes.

The Mazda was traveling at 40 mph and the teen driver applied the brakes two seconds before the airbags deployed, the expert testified.


Today's Headlines

More World Crime

Download the Sunday World app

Now download the free app for all the latest Sunday World News, Crime, Irish Showbiz and Sport. Available on Apple and Android devices