Gregory Moldenhauer didn't set out to kill his friend. But when he got behind the wheel of a car after a night of drinking, that was the tragic result.
Last Monday in Fairfax County Circuit Court, Moldenhauer, 26, of 9334 Tartan View Drive in Fairfax, pleaded guilty to DUI involuntary manslaughter. His sentencing is set for November.
The accident occurred in the wee hours of Dec. 13. Moldenhauer and his buddy, Thomas Edward Bolt Jr., had been out celebrating Bolt's 27th birthday, Dec. 12. But as they drove home to Chantilly, Moldenhauer lost control of his car and crashed into a tree on Walney Road.
He survived the impact; Bolt, of Chantilly's Brookside community, didn't. He was the front-seat passenger, and police charged Moldenhauer with DUI involuntary manslaughter in connection with his death.
During his preliminary hearing, April 19 in General District Court, he listened while fire and rescue personnel testified about what they saw at the scene and, later, at the hospital.
The crash occurred around 12:30 a.m. Moldenhauer was driving a four-door, silver, 2003 Acura RSX north on Walney Road, near E.C. Lawrence Park. But as he approached Walney Park Drive, his car crossed over the southbound lanes, struck an embankment and hit a tree.
Police Officer Timothy Catir was first to arrive on the scene after the crash. After striking the tree, he said, "The vehicle flipped onto the passenger side." Rescue workers tried to extricate both men from the car. Moldenhauer was taken to Inova Fairfax Hospital to treat leg injuries he'd sustained in the accident.
Catir also went to the hospital — and arrested Moldenhauer. "He smelled like alcoholic beverages when I got close enough to him in the emergency room to place him under arrest," he explained.
Since Moldenhauer was medevac'd to the hospital right after he was freed, Catir couldn't administer a sobriety test to him on the spot. But he said Moldenhauer admitted to him that he'd been drinking that night. Furthermore, said Catir, "His eyes were bloodshot and he appeared to be intoxicated — he slurred his words."
Lt. David Bryant, a paramedic with Chantilly's Fire Station 15, also responded to the scene. "The vehicle was overturned on its side, pinned against a tree, top first," he said. Bryant stated that Bolt was already dead, and Moldenhauer was on the driver's side. In speaking with Moldenhauer, said Bryant, "It appeared that he had an odor of alcohol."
Officer Paul DeHaven, a paramedic, flew with Moldenhauer to the hospital in the medevac helicopter. "There was a very strong odor of an alcoholic beverage emanating from his breath and his person, each time he spoke," testified DeHaven. "He stated he'd been out celebrating his buddy's 27th birthday and he'd consumed several drinks throughout the night."
Det. Clinton Beach, with the police department's Crash Reconstruction Unit, responded to the scene at 2 a.m. to investigate further. "I noticed two, long tire marks — indicating a side-slipped tire — and a large gash on the pavement," he said.
The detective also noted that the accident happened on a straight stretch of road and "it was evident that there was a lot of speed involved. The frame of the vehicle was bowed and wrapped around the tree, and the vehicle had lost its lateral stability. And from the striations on the side-slipping tire and the two marks on the road, we know there was no breaking involved."
Beach determined that the Acura had been traveling 55-60 mph on the 35-mph road. "I believe [Moldenhauer] was traveling too fast for that road," he said. "He rotated his vehicle, struck an embankment, the vehicle did a half roll and the passenger was crushed." Beach said Moldenhauer "refused to give blood at the hospital" so police could learn its alcohol content, so he got a search warrant to have it done.
Last week, Circuit Court Judge Kathleen MacKay asked Moldenhauer several questions to make sure he was entering a guilty plea freely and voluntarily and because he was, indeed, guilty. After accepting it, she set his sentencing for Nov. 5. At that time, he could receive as much as 10 years in prison.