Northwestern Press

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Hamburg man charged in death of his motorcycle passenger

Thursday, December 14, 2017 by Susan Bryant in Police Log

A Hamburg man has been charged in the death of his motorcycle passenger, Lehigh County District Attorney Jim Martin announced Dec. 11.

According to a news release from Martin’s office, Shawn Balthaser, 49, of 437 Franklin St., has been charged with one count each of involuntary manslaughter, a misdemeanor of the first degree; homicide by vehicle while driving under the influence, a felony of the second degree; homicide by vehicle, a felony of the third degree; and two counts of driving while under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance, a misdemeanor of the first degree.

In addition, Balthaser’s allegedly did not have a license to operate a motorcycle, but did have a learner’s permit for motorcycles, which forbids an individual to drive after sunset and with a passenger.

Upper Macungie police officers were dispatched 11:23 p.m. on July 31 to the intersection of Route 222 and Mill Creek Road, for a crash.

At the scene, officers determined the crash involved a single vehicle, a motorcycle, which was carrying two riders.

Officers spoke with Balthaser, who allegedly told them he had been the operator of the motorcycle. The passenger, Yvonne Rohrbach, 52, also of 437 Franklin St., Hamburg, sustained fatal injuries and was pronounced dead at the scene.

According to Martin, Rohrbach and Balthaser were in a relationship.

Investigation at the scene of the crash indicated Balthaser failed to negotiate a left curve in the roadway and drove across two concrete islands at the end of Mill Creek Road.

The investigation also revealed Rohrbach had fallen off the motorcycle as it went over the second island and was dragged a short distance until she eventually struck a sign post.

As a result of the investigation, it is alleged Balthaser caused the death of Rohrbach while driving under the influence and acting recklessly or with gross negligence.

According to Lehigh County Criminal Court records, Balthaser was arraigned Dec. 11 before Magisterial District Judge Michael J. Faulkner, Upper Macungie.

Balthaser was unable to post $100,000 bail and confined to Lehigh County Jail. His preliminary hearing is scheduled for 10 a.m. Dec. 18 before Faulkner.