Driver charged in fatal Hawthorne farmer's market crash pleads not guilty

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Toni Yates reports from Hawthorne. (WABC)

The driver accused of causing a weekend crash that left one woman dead and two people injured at a farmers market in northern New Jersey appeared in court Wednesday.

Authorities say 48-year-old James Woetzel, who sat in a wheelchair when he faced the judge, was behind the wheel of a pickup truck that slammed through a police barricade and into a crowd of people in Hawthorne Sunday afternoon.

Three people were struck, including 58-year-old Donna Wine, who died after being dragged several blocks.

The other two victims were treated at a hospital.

Woetzel is charged with vehicular homicide and leaving the scene of a motor vehicle accident that resulted in death.

His lawyer entered a not guilty plea, calling the incident a tragic accident.

The judge ordered a psychological evaluation, and a 2002 drunk driving arrest was mentioned.

Woetzel is being held on $200,000 bail.

The market was preparing to close for the day when the crash occurred.

The investigation into the circumstances of the incident, being conducted by the Hawthorne Police Department and the Passaic County Prosecutor's Office Major Crimes Unit, is active and ongoing.

Wine's family is keeping close and quiet, planning a very private memorial for the mother of two. She had worked at one time for a hair salon, whose owners say she was a dear friend.

"Just a wonderful person in every way and a valuable employee and friend," said salon owner Bill Miller.


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crashaccidentpedestrian struckHawthorne
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