KINGSTON – A Town of Esopus man pled guilty in Ulster County Court
on Friday to vehicular manslaughter. When sentenced in July, John Ronk,
41, faces a maximum sentence of five to 15 years in state prison.
Ronk admitted to driving a Nissan Xterra SUV while intoxicated and causing the death of a bicyclist, Brian Jones, at about 7:30 p.m. on September 14, 2017. Jones, 41, was the father of six children. Ronk’s blood alcohol content was .32, four times the legal limit.
This was not the first vehicular manslaughter guilty plea for Ronk. On July 4, 2000 he killed a passenger in a pickup truck in Rhinebeck while Ronk was intoxicated. He was sentenced in that case to one to three years in state prison.
Investigation in this current case revealed that Rank crossed over the double yellow centerlines and struck the rear tire of Jones’ bike causing Jones to be thrown and killed. After striking Jones, two wheels from Ronk’s vehicle drove up on a guiderail for several feet before correcting and striking a utility pole.
Ronk attempted to flee on foot, but a passing motorist called 911 and alerted the sheriff’s office and deputies apprehended him minutes after the crash.