Repeat offender from Northeast charged in DUI crash that killed mother in Port Richmond

Ryan McHugh

By William Kenny

An ex-convict from the Northeast’s Brookhaven section with more than two dozen prior arrests is facing homicide by vehicle and DUI charges resulting from a crash that claimed the life of a 28-year-old mother and injured her 9-year-old son on Saturday.

Ryan McHugh, 39, of the 4700 block of St. Denis Drive, was driving a 2003 Dodge Durango northbound on the 3500 block of Aramingo Avenue in Port Richmond at about 8:47 p.m. when he lost control of the vehicle just north of Tioga Street, mounted a curb and struck the two pedestrians, police said.

Police did not release the victims’ names, but they were identified in news reports as Rosa Lydia Rojas and her son Jaden. Rojas’ father told CBS Philly the woman had just left a nearby restaurant with her son and daughter. The girl was not injured.

The victims were walking southbound on the sidewalk when McHugh’s vehicle struck them, police said. The son fell to the right of the truck after it hit him, while his mother became trapped under the truck, which then ran over her. The vehicle then struck a utility pole, knocked it to the ground and dragged it, police said. Bystanders reportedly surrounded McHugh to ensure he remained at the scene until police arrived.

Paramedics took Rojas to Hahnemann University Hospital, where she was pronounced dead at 9:19 p.m. They took her son to St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children, where he was listed in stable condition with a broken leg and abrasions.

Police arrested McHugh under suspicion of DUI and took him to Episcopal Hospital for treatment of minor injuries. He was later charged with homicide by vehicle while DUI, aggravated assault while DUI, accident involving death, involuntary manslaughter and related offenses. Authorities did not disclose what intoxicants McHugh had consumed or his level of intoxication. He is jailed in lieu of $150,000 bail. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for June 27.

Court records show McHugh has been arrested at least 26 times in Philadelphia since January 1998, including 18 times for retail theft and four times for buying or possessing drugs.

In addition, records show his involvement in a July 30, 2014, vehicle crash that resulted in death or injury to another person. Details of that case were not immediately available. He was charged with aggravated assault, “accident involving death or personal injury,” reckless driving and numerous other offenses. The case was delayed repeatedly and had a most recent court listing for a pre-trial conference in February. The case is listed as “inactive” on the court docket.

McHugh was repeatedly sentenced to probation and ordered to serve county prison time in 2004, ’05, ’06 and ’11. In the 2011 retail theft case, a judge granted him immediate parole and ordered him to attend an inpatient drug treatment program.

Since then, he was arrested in September 2015 and again last August for “arrest prior to requisition,” a Pennsylvania statute that allows authorities to take custody of a defendant on a warrant from another state. Information about the origin of the warrant and the charges involved were not immediately available.

William Kenny can be reached at 215–354–3031 or wkenny@bsmphilly.com.