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Father, daughter allegedly killed by driver high on heroin

Heroin use appears to have been the primary cause of a two-vehicle crash in Easthampton Thursday that killed a father and daughter who were riding on a motorcycle, officials said.

James Walter Ainsworth, 45, of Springfield, is facing two charges of vehicular homicide, negligent and impaired by drugs, after he allegedly drove his car while high on heroin and veered into the wrong lane on Route 5, colliding head-on with a motorcycle carrying the father and daughter at about 3:10 p.m., said Easthampton police Captain Robert Alberti.

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Edward McGrath, 62, of Holyoke, and his 29-year-old daughter, Brittney McGrath, of Long Island, N.Y., were pronounced dead at the scene near the Holyoke town line, officials said.

“He basically wasn’t even swerving, witnesses said they saw him [Ainsworth] asleep at the wheel,” Alberti said.

Ainsworth and his passenger, Christina R. Dunlap, 27, of Greenfield, were taken to Baystate Medical Center with minor injuries. Both were charged with possession of heroin, and Ainsworth also faces a charge of operating under the influence of drugs and an array of motor vehicle charges in addition to two counts of vehicular homicide impaired by drugs, Alberti said.

In addition, police discovered that Dunlap was wanted for arrest in Florida, so she was also charged as a fugitive from justice.

Ainsworth and Dunlap were arraigned Friday in Northampton District Court where they pleaded not guilty to all charges. Ainsworth was held on $100,000 cash bail; Dunlap was held on $2,500.

Both are scheduled to return to court Sept. 29 for a pretrial hearing.

Kiera Blessing can be reached at kiera.blessing@globe.com.
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