A Prince George County father pleaded guilty Thursday to killing his 5-year-old son and seriously injuring his 9-year-old daughter in a drunken-driving crash just 500 feet from his home.
Daniel Krenicky, 36, had been drinking earlier in the day at a wedding and had a can of beer in his car when his 2002 Pontiac Grand Am veered off the left side of the 16000 block of Jolly Road, struck a culvert and overturned, according to evidence in the case. Krenicky’s son Seth was found 50 feet from the car when the first deputy arrived on the evening of Nov. 17.
The deputy performed CPR on the boy for 10 minutes to keep him alive until paramedics arrived to administer aid. He survived for two days before he succumbed to deprivation of oxygen to his brain due to a long period of cardiac arrest, Prince George Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Tim Dustan told the court.
After authorities tested Krenicky’s blood for alcohol content, it registered between 0.11 and 0.12 two hours after the crash. Had the case gone to trial, a forensic expert would have testified that Krenicky’s blood level likely was 0.14 or 0.15 at the time of the wreck — or nearly two times the legal limit of 0.08.
Krenicky pleaded guilty in Prince George Circuit Court to aggravated involuntary manslaughter, drunken driving and two counts of child endangerment. In exchange, the prosecution withdrew an accompanying charge of reckless driving by speed.
Judge William Edward Tomko III accepted Krenicky’s pleas and set sentencing for Sept. 17.
According to Dustan’s court summary of evidence, Krenicky was driving about 10:45 p.m. with his children and heading south toward his home on Jolly Road — a narrow, undivided country road — when he ran off to the left and struck a culvert, causing his vehicle to roll over.
Krenicky, his son and his daughter were all outside the car on the ground when the first deputy arrived. Residents told the deputy they heard what sounded like two loud booms around the time of the wreck.
Krenicky initially denied he had been drinking when questioned by the deputy, but the officer smelled a strong odor of alcohol and spotted a can of beer inside the wrecked car. When asked again, Krenicky said he had consumed one or two drinks.
Dustan said investigators determined that Krenicky had drunk alcohol at a wedding earlier that day, and likely had stopped to purchase more based on the can of beer found in his car.
Krenicky’s son held onto life for two days, but he essentially was brain dead and doctors determined he had no chance for recovery.
He died of an anoxic brain injury, which is not caused by a blow to the head but from the brain being deprived of oxygen after going into cardiac arrest. Left without oxygen for too long, neural cells in the brain begin to die through a process called apoptosis.
Investigators recovered the data recorder, or “black box,” inside Krenicky’s vehicle and downloaded the crash data with the help of Chesterfield County police.
The data showed that Krenicky’s car was traveling 79 mph five seconds before impact, but had slowed to 27 mph four seconds later. The data also indicate the car’s brakes had been applied four seconds before the crash.
At the time of the wreck, police said Krenicky’s daughter suffered life-threatening injuries, and she and her brother Seth were flown by helicopter to VCU Medical Center. On Thursday, Dustan told the court the girl is now doing well.
The court ordered a pre-sentence report be completed, which will include various background information about Krenicky, his family and employment. It will be used to determine if there are mitigating circumstances the court should consider to lessen his punishment, or a history of criminal behavior that should increase the harshness of his sentence.