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Pasadena man gets 20 years in prison after drugged driving crash kills elderly couple

A Pasadena man was sentenced Tuesday to 20 years in prison after he crashed last year, while under the influence of fentanyl and other drugs, into a car being driven by an elderly couple from New Jersey, eventually killing them both.

Frances, 73, and Richard Manis, 80, were on the way to a family member’s engagement party when they pulled over on Interstate 295 South in the area between the highway and the exit ramp for Interstate 195. A blue pickup truck smashed into their silver sedan. Frances was pronounced dead at the scene; Richard died five weeks later.

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Brandon Wyrobek, 30, of Werner Road, pleaded guilty in February to two counts of negligent auto manslaughter. Online court records show he’d already been convicted of driving while impaired by drugs and drug possession.

Circuit Judge William Mulford handed down the maximum sentence allowed under the plea agreement: 10 years each for the manslaughter counts, one to be served after the other and no prison time suspended.

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State’s Attorney Anne Colt Leitess said in a statement that Wyrobek’s actions robbed the Manis' three daughters and grandchildren of valuable time with their loved ones.

“Wyrobek destroyed the lives of the Manis family when he decided to get behind the wheel of a vehicle while high on illegal drugs,” Leitess said.

Wyrobek’s attorney, Peter O’Neill, said his client’s case was an example of the devastation drugs can cause for the person using them and those caught in their path.

“It’s a tragedy for both the Manis family who was killed as a result of this accident and of course for the Wyrobek family who’s going to lose their son for a substantial amount of time,” O’Neill told The Capital. He said his client wishes he could take back what he did that day. “Mr. Wyrobek did express a sincere remorse for what happened.”

The fatal collision occurred around 3:45 p.m. on Sept. 14, 2019. Multiple motorists had phoned 911 to warn of a blue pickup driving erratically on I-295, prosecutors said. The concerned callers said the person driving the pickup appeared to be asleep, and one person told operators they saw the truck smash into the sedan, which was pulled over with its hazard lights flashing.

Maryland State Police Troopers found Wyrobek’s 2002 Chevrolet Silverado and the Manis' 2018 Mazda 3. The couple was trapped inside the car and it took Anne Arundel County firefighters about 20 minutes to free them, a process that left one firefighter injured. Paramedics declared Frances Manis dead and took Richard Manis to the University of Maryland Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore.

After five weeks, prosecutors said he succumbed to his injuries.

Prosecutors said Wyrobek said he saw “oompa-loompa’s” when paramedics arrived and denied having taken drugs. Paramedics took him to shock trauma for treatment and he agreed to submit to a blood test. A trooper stayed with him and noted that he was drowsy, slow and fell asleep more than once.

Wyrobek tested positive for fentanyl, benzodiazepines and opioids, prosecutors said. When he was discharged from the hospital, police arrested him.

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