- Associated Press - Saturday, January 30, 2016

SCRANTON, Pa. (AP) - A fifth person has died following a wrong-away crash on a northeastern Pennsylvania interstate, and authorities say more charges are planned in the case.

Bhaveshkumar Patel, 42, “succumbed to his injuries” Friday at a Scranton hospital, state police said. Police added that the National Transportation Safety Board had been notified and “additional charges are pending.”

“I can’t believe that this tragedy continues to grow,” District Attorney Shane Scanlon told The (Scranton) Times-Tribune. The county coroner’s office said an autopsy would be scheduled.

Police said earlier that a car apparently heading north in the southbound lanes of Interstate 81 collided with a southbound car early Jan. 23, killing four Scranton residents. Coroner Timothy Rowland identified them as 68-year-old Vinodchandra Patel, 30-year-old Komal Vyas, 29-year-old Shilpa Patel and 32-year-old Ashley Wheeler. Another person was being treated.

Gennadiy Manannikov, 28, of Lake Ariel is charged with multiple counts of vehicular homicide, reckless endangering and traffic-related counts. Manannikov is being held in the county prison in lieu of $500,000 bail pending a preliminary hearing Tuesday. Wheeler was a passenger in his vehicle.

State police said in a criminal complaint that a Pennsylvania Department of Transportation vehicle reported almost being hit head-on by the northbound vehicle, and the crew turned around and tried to get the attention of the wrong-way driver. The PennDOT crew reported that the driver “narrowly missed other vehicles several times” and police said a video taken by the workers “demonstrates that the (car) passed nine vehicles in the opposite direction.”

Manannikov was identified by the road crew as the operator at the time of the crash, police said. A trooper said the defendant appeared to be impaired after the crash, with “slurred speech and glassy eyes,” and smelled of alcohol, but a toxicology report was pending and no impairment-related charges were immediately filed.

Prosecutors initially filed only three counts of homicide because an autopsy on one of the victims hadn’t been completed, but Scanlon said his office plans to file a fourth count of homicide by vehicle “at the very least.” A fifth count would depend on whether the coroner determines that death to be a homicide, but charges were unlikely before toxicology results are in and state police finish a reconstruction of the crash, officials said.

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