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January 26, 2016

DA: Intoxicated man drives into Schuylkill River Canal, drowning friends

Bruce Hoffman charged with two counts of homicide by vehicle

Charges Homicide
Bruce Hoffman Montgomery County District Attorney's Office/Contributed Art

Bruce Hoffman.

Bruce Hoffman of Collegeville was drunk and high when he backed his car over an embankment and into the Schuylkill River Canal, drowning two of his friends sitting inside the vehicle, prosecutors say.

The Montgomery County District Attorney's Office announced Tuesday they're charging Hoffman, 21, with two counts of homicide by vehicle and related charges for the incident that occurred Oct. 4, 2015, at a pull off area where Tow Path Road meets the canal.

Authorities say Hoffman was the driver of the 2007 Volkswagen Passat station wagon that was parked with his two friends -- 29-year-old Clinton Berger and 25-year-old Lauren Magargal -- in the car.

They decided to leave, and Hoffman backed up into the canal, rolling the vehicle upside down and into about four feet of water, prosecutors allege.

Margargal and Berger were unable to escape, drowning in the water. A toxicology test of Hoffman, who did not possess a valid driver's license, found alcohol, marijuana, and the anxiety drug Clonazepam in his system, according to authorities.

Hoffman has been arraigned and jailed on $10,000 unsecured bail. He has been ordered not to drive or consume any alcohol or drugs. A preliminary hearing is set for Feb. 4.