In a courtroom filled with sheriff’s deputies, an Upper Bucks County man pleaded guilty and was sentenced for a DUI that killed one of their colleagues.
Harry J. Burak, 28, of East Rockhill Township, pleaded guilty Tuesday to homicide by vehicle while DUI, causing an accident involving death or serious injury while not properly licensed and related offences before Bucks County Judge Raymond McHugh.
The habitual intoxicated driver was sentenced to six and one-half to 22 ¾ years in state prison. He also was sentenced to 10 years probation once released and a $2,500 fine, according to the Bucks County District Attorney’s Office.
Burak, who lost his license due to previous DUI arrests, had a blood alcohol concentration of at least .18 when he pulled his 2017 Dodge Ram 5500 truck in front of off-duty Deputy Keith Clymer, 48, of Kintnersville, last May on Route 313 near Sterner Mill Road in East Rockhill. Clymer was on his 2006 Honda motorcycle and killed instantly.
“There’s nothing that I can do to bring Keith Clymer back,” the judge said in court. “There’s nothing I can do to lessen the suffering of his family and friends.”
Burak’s plea in court was part of a negotiated deal between Deputy District Attorney Robert James and defense attorney Steven F. Fairlie.
Clymer was traveling over the speed limit at between 86 and 94 mph at the time of the crash, but James said that Burak’s “impaired ability to judge the distance and speed of the oncoming vehicle or react to the speed of the oncoming vehicle was the direct and substantial cause of the crash and resulting death of Keith Clymer.”
When police arrived and attempted to take Burak into custody, he struggled with them and forced officers to take him to the ground.
A neighbor’s surveillance video showed the crash. Burak, according to prosecutors, did not use his turn signal at the time.
Prosecutors said Burak had left a nearby bar with a six-pack of beer and had already finished five pints of beer in less than an hour.
Ironically, Burak had walked to and from the bar but decided to drive his Dodge shortly before the crash.
After three DUIs as an adult and a fourth committed as a juvenile, Burak’s license had been revoked permanently the year before the crash, prosecutors said.
Among those who submitted victim impact statements were Clymer’s girlfriend and one of his two sons.
Megan McCuen, Clymer’s girlfriend, said he was her “biggest cheerleader, keeper of my secrets, the man that held my hand and my heart …. And he was the man I was planning a future with.”
McCuen knew something was wrong when the off-duty deputy did not call her like he usually did when he got home.
“When Keith didn’t call, I knew something was wrong and I went looking for him,” she said. “As I approached one stop sign I looked left and saw all the emergency lights. I screamed, knowing my life will never be the same.”
“Ever since my brother and I were young, we were attached to my dad at the hip. We were inseparable,” wrote his 16-year-old son Rooney. “After the passing of my mom at the age of 15 we became even closer. He was the one that picked me up in the darkest points in my life and brushed me off. He pushed me to never give up … His heart was so big it wouldn’t fit in this room.”
Clymer joined the sheriff’s office in 2014 and was assigned to the Domestic Relations Warrant Unit. He also served as a self defense tactics instructor.
In July 2016, Clymer and Deputy Greg Appleton were snapped by a Doylestown newspaper photographer comforting children who were involved in a vehicle accident in Central Bucks County.
Deputy Greg Appletown, Clymer’s partner, said the lawman “gained enormous amounts of respect from his peers in the department, as well as the subjects that he sought after.”