His driving was like a perilous stunt in an action movie — except that it happened in reality and ended in tragedy, prosecutors say.
Joseph Bezanis, 21, was speeding down a road in Franconia Township, Pennsylvania, on April 6 just after midnight when he lost control of his vehicle on a curve, according to investigators. Bezanis’ 1995 Toyota had been reaching speeds of 80 mph or more on Harleysville Pike, where the posted speed limit was just 40, authorities said.
After missing the curve, Bezanis’ vehicle jumped onto a lawn and tore across three more yards before the Toyota “became airborne,” according to the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office. From there, the car vaulted 21 feet into the sidewall of a home.
The Toyota crashed right into 86-year-old Maryann Lambert’s first-story bedroom, completely entering her home, prosecutors said. Lambert had been sleeping.
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The impact crushed Lambert against an interior wall, prosecutors said. Lambert was pronounced dead at the scene.
Bezanis was taken to Lehigh Valley Trauma Center to be treated for non-life-threatening injuries.
Bezanis — a Telford, Pennsylvania, resident — was arrested after Lambert’s death and now faces charges of vehicular homicide, driving under the influence, reckless endangerment, reckless driving and more, prosecutors announced Monday.
“The defendant turned his vehicle into a lethal weapon that killed a grandmother as she was sleeping in her bed,” Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin R. Steele said in a statement. “His actions have left a family without a matriarch and have forever affected their feelings of safety in their own home.”
Tests revealed that Bezanis had a blood alcohol content of 0.172 percent, prosecutors said. That’s twice the legal limit in the state. Bezanis' blood also tested positive for THC, according to prosecutors, suggesting he had been using marijuana.
The tire tracks left across the lawns indicate that Bezanis didn’t try to steer or brake the vehicle as it barreled toward Lambert’s home, prosecutors said. But the analysis did suggest the vehicle accelerated as it went farther into the soft lawns.
An inspection of the car showed it had no mechanical problems at the time of the crash, prosecutors said. Steele blamed the crash on Bezanis’ drug use and speeding.
Bezanis was arraigned Monday and bail was set at $100,000 unsecured, prosecutors said. Bezanis will not be allowed to operate a vehicle and will not be permitted to have alcohol or controlled substances.
Bezanis' next court appearance is scheduled for April 30.
"That poor family," Andy Tawney, a neighbor, told WPVI after the crash. "My wife and I have been praying all morning for the family."
Another neighbor described the scene before authorities removed the vehicle from the house.
"Fire trucks were here, police were here, and we seen the tail lights of the car in the house," Harold Fredericks told WPVI.
Lambert had been married to her husband, Arthur, for 66 years, according to an obituary. She was a grandmother to 13 and great-grandmother to 14.
“This family is her legacy,” the obituary said.