DRIVER PLEADS GUILTY IN PRINCIPAL’S DEATH

img_6457Students and parents mourn the death of Markham Place School principal Donald Merce in May, 2008. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

The motorist who killed Little Silver middle school principal Donald Merce in an automobile accident in 2008 pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter in federal court Wednesday, the Asbury Park Press reports.

Dennis Smentkowski, a 46-year-old retired Long Branch police officer, claimed he’d taken four times the recommended dosage of the sleeping aid Ambien before he plowed into 58-year-old Merce’s car outside the east gate of Fort Monmouth on Oceanport Avenue, killing him instantly, the newspaper said.

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