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1 dead, 17 injured after car crashes into Pennsylvania fundraiser; Driver suspected of fatal attack after crash

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A man drove through a crowd gathered for a fundraiser on Saturday that killed one person and injured 17 before fatally assaulting a woman in a neighboring town, Pennsylvania authorities said.

The suspect, whose identity was withheld, is in custody, state police said. Officials have not said what charges he faces.

State Trooper Anthony Petroski said Saturday night a vehicle drove through a “community event” in Berwick around 6:15 p.m.

After the crash, the suspect is accused of fatally assaulting a woman in Nescopeck, where he was detained by municipal police, Petroski said.

Police are investigating whether the suspect deliberately drove into the crowd and have not said whether there is a connection between the suspect and the woman who died in Nescopeck.

NBC affiliate WBRE van Wilkes-Barre reported that the crowd had gathered at a benefit event in Berwick to raising money for the families of three children and seven adults who died in a house fire early in the morning on Aug. 5 in Nescopeck.

Officials have not released the identities of the two people killed. Columbia County coroner Jeremy Reese said the victim of the crash in Berwick was a 50-year-old woman from Wilkes-Barre who was pronounced dead at the scene.

The 17 injured were taken to four hospitals in the area, Petroski said. Their terms were not immediately available to police on Saturday night.

Natalie Buyny, a spokesperson for health care provider Geisinger, said it had treated 15 patients from the Berwick incident at three of its sites. Six were still under review; four were critical; three were fair; and two have been treated and released, she said.

Saturday’s benefit evening was held in the bar and restaurant of the Intoxicology Department. People had also gathered in an adjacent outdoor area, where several vendors and a basket raffle were set up under tents. The event also included a water balloon fight and a dunk tank, according to the bar’s social media.

“We can never replace these people who are lost, but we can do our best” to support the family, bar owner Lauren Hess told Wilkes-Barre’s NBC affiliate WBRE at the benefit Saturday.

On Saturday evening, the bar announced on Facebook that it would be closed until further notice.

“Today was an absolute tragedy,” the post said. “Please respect our privacy as we grieve and try to process the events that have taken place.”

Funerals were set to begin Friday for some of the victims who died in the August 5 fire, with additional services scheduled for Sunday and Monday.

The deceased included seven adults ranging in age from 19 to 79, two boys ages 5 and 6 and a 7-year-old girl. according to the Pennsylvania State Police. All 10 died from smoke inhalation, the coroner determined.

Pennsylvania state police initially called the case a “complex criminal investigation.” An investigation into the fire and its cause, which has not yet been determined, is still ongoing.

The fire broke out before 3 a.m. and first responders reported flames hindering their attempts to enter the two-storey house and make rescues, authorities said later that day.

The house was burned to the ground and the remains were discovered as authorities went through the rubble.

When asked whether the suspect in Saturday’s incidents was also a possible suspect in the Nescopeck fire, Petroski said: “At the moment, he is not a suspect in that incident.”

Nescopeck is a community of more than 1,400 people in Luzerne County, about 78 miles southwest of Scranton. Berwick, in Columbia County, has a population of approximately 10,300 and is located across the Susquehanna River from Nescopeck.

Joe Studley and The Associated Press contributed.


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