COURTHOUSE – A city emergency medical services officer who was accused of reckless driving in connection with a crash that killed an 88-year-old woman near Lynnhaven Mall in March reached a plea agreement in the case this past month, pleading guilty to an infraction, improper driving. He remains assigned to administrative duties for now.

Brigade Chief Jeffrey L. Brennaman pleaded to the infraction in Virginia Beach Circuit Court on Tuesday, Aug. 2, according to court records.

As The Independent News reported this spring, the police investigation into the crash had tried to determine whether Brennaman was distracted when he collided with another vehicle, leading to the death of a passenger. 

Brennaman had been indicted on a count of reckless driving-endanger life/limb, a class one misdemeanor. He could have faced 12 months in jail and a $2,500 fine. Instead, he was ordered to pay a $500 fine and court costs, or a sum total of $595.

Brennaman was talking on his personal cell phone with a coworker while driving a city vehicle when the crash happened in March, according to a summary in court records. Brennaman ran a red light and collided with a vehicle in the intersection of Lynnhaven Parkway and North Mall Drive.

An 88-year-old passenger in the other car, Doris V. Baxter, was pronounced dead at a hospital after the crash, and another person in the other vehicle was injured.

In an email, EMS Chief Ed Brazle on Wednesday, Aug. 31, wrote that Brennaman remains employed by the department. He is on administrative duty because internal reviews of the incident are underway, the chief wrote in the email.

Court records and an affidavit filed in support of a search warrant said Brennaman cooperated with authorities throughout the investigation. He told police he was on the phone when the crash happened, according to a search warrant affidavit filed in the spring.  

Brennaman’s attorney, Jeffrey Swartz, did not respond to a phone message seeking comment.

Baxter was retired as a supervisor at the Navy Exchange at Naval Air Station Oceana, according to an obituary. She was predeceased by James V. Baxter, her husband.

© 2016 Pungo Publishing Co., LLC

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