“He” is former Luzerne County President Judge and now Senior Judge, Chester Muroski and he almost made it into retirement without making headlines. But slick roads and “one, maybe two” drinks did him in.
I was going to let Chester’s moment in the spotlight pass by. After all, this is the guy who was left to clean up the mess after former judges turned scumbag gangsters, Mark Ciaverella and Michael Conahan, joined the ranks of criminals and were thrown off the bench in what the media calls the “Kids for Cash Scandal.” But the reporters and talk show hosts in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton are having a field day with this one, and in my opinion are going overboard. It’s almost like they haven’t had any courthouse arrests to report and talk on, so they manufacture a news story where one doesn’t exist.
Here’s the story in a nutshell. Chet got done swearing in the Courtdale mayor. After taking the oath, the judge heads over to Bistro on the Ave in Kingston to celebrate with what he said was “one, maybe two” drinks. On the way home his car slides off the road on an icy Route 115 in Bear Creek and takes out a mailbox. A passer-by spots the car off the road, calls 911 and after 15 or so minutes takes the judge to his home leaving the car there. In the mean time the police come, write their report and the car is taken to a garage for repair. (For the exact timeline of events, see this article.)
Having lived in Bear Creek for a few years I experienced many a harrowing drive up and down the mountain in the winter. I once did a complete 360 in an all-wheel-drive BMW sedan with just a thin cover of snow on the road. It’s a dangerous stretch of pavement that is steep, windy and not taken care of very well in the winter, but for those who live up there it’s the only way in and out of Dodge.
I believe Chester’s story, and for the record, I don’t know him, never met him and I doubt he knows me. If I thought there was any special treatment given to him by any law enforcement agency, I’d be all over it like stink on a monkey (where did that expression come from?), but I just don’t get all the attention that’s focused on a simple weather related auto accident..
I don’t buy the accusations that he was drunk behind the wheel. If he’s telling the truth, and I sincerely believe he is, “one, maybe two” drinks isn’t enough to make one so impaired that they can’t drive. One or two martini’s doesn’t impair me, but six or more, and I’ll hand over the keys.
I remember one sunny summer afternoon, I’m sitting in my house in Bear Creek when out of the blue I hear a loud bang and look out front and my mailbox was gone and a car was wrapped around a tree in my neighbor’s front yard. The driver was killed, suicide if I remember correctly, and the story never made it past an obituary in the paper two days later. I also recall many, and I mean MANY, cars landing in my front yard on a snowy morning and not one made headlines. Muroski slides off an icy road and we’ve got panic in the streets.
Maybe something else will come out later, but I doubt it. Like I said earlier, with the lack of arrests in the courthouse the past couple weeks, the news outlets are looking for stories of politicos that they can trump up to get people to listen to their talk show, watch their newscast and buy their papers.
He almost made it.
If the snow didn’t come and the roads weren’t slick, Chester Muroski would have slid into history as the judge credited with righting the ship right before the M.S. Luzerne County Justice was getting ready to sink below the horizon. Instead he slid into a mailbox and the village idiots lit their torches and stormed the streets hunting for a witch who just isn’t there.
January 7, 2010 – As an update to this story, the Times Leader reports:
BEAR CREEK TWP. – A woman was killed in a two vehicle crash on state Route 115 Thursday morning, state police at Wyoming said.
The name of the woman has not been released pending notification of family.
Trooper Tom Kelly said two vehicles, a Subaru and a Ford Escape, collided on Route 115, near Pittston Boulevard at about 8:40 a.m.
Kelly said the Subaru was traveling north on Route 115 and slid on black ice into the southbound lane where it collided into the Ford Escape.
A woman and a 7-year old child in the Ford were taken to area hospitals, Kelly said.
Several trucks from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation were seen spreading salt on Route 115.
The fatal accident happened about 100 yards north from where Luzerne County Senior Judge Chester Muroski said he slid off Route 115 and into mailboxes Monday night.
Route 115 in both northbound and southbound lanes of travel between Old East End Boulevard is closed to traffic.