A new twist was made public Friday in the gruesome case of a head-on collision in South Philly on the night after New Year’s Day that killed three people, including two Mummers and a newly engaged couple.
Keith Campbell, 29, of Bear, Delaware, had 15 to 20 stab wounds when his white Audi A4, while traveling at a high rate of speed, crossed the central median on the 600 block of Packer Avenue and slammed into a Mazda SUV carrying four people – three of whom died, while the fourth is in critical condition. The crash occurred around 1:45 a.m. on Jan. 2.
Now, it has been revealed that Campbell was being chased by Delaware state and local police just a half-hour before the crash – but managed to escape, the Newport Police Department confirmed Friday.
Campbell’s stab wounds are believed to have been self-inflicted. The 10-inch knife used in the stabbing and a note were both found in his car, although police have not disclosed any further details about the contents of the note. Campbell has been charged with three counts of vehicular homicide.
The dead included two Mummers from the South Philly String Band – Joseph Ferry, 36, who was driving the SUV, and Dennis Palandro, 31, the son of Denny Palandro, the String Band’s captain. The group came in second place at the 2019 Mummer’s Parade, held the day before on Jan. 1.
Also killed was Kelly Wiseley, 35, who had just become engaged to Ferry over Christmas, friends say. Palandro’s wife, 30, was the lone survivor of the SUV, who was placed in critical condition at Jefferson University Hospital with a broken pelvis and other serious injuries.
About a half-hour before the crash, Campbell’s vehicle had evaded Delaware State Police chasing him on I-95.
Around 1:12 a.m. on Jan. 2, Campbell’s white Audi was spotted “driving erratically” westbound on Delaware state route 4, and a Newport police officer began to pursue him, the Newport Police Department said in a press release issued Friday.
When the vehicle didn’t stop, Delaware State Police joined the pursuit. But they couldn’t catch the car, suspected to have been driven by Campbell at that point as well.
“About five minutes into the pursuit, on interstate 95 northbound in the area of Christiana Mall, the fleeing vehicle’s driving became too reckless to continue and endangered the safety of other vehicles,” Newport Police said. “Thus, the Newport and Delaware State Police Troop 6 discontinued the pursuit as the vehicle continued north on Interstate 95. Later that morning, the Newport Police Department was notified that a fatal collision occurred in Philadelphia, Pennylvania and the vehicle we were pursuing was involved.”
Newport Police added, “This department will not answer any follow up questions,” and directed any further inquiries to the Philadelphia Police Department. They said they are working with Philly police on this case.
The South Philly String Band hung black bunting over their sign at the club’s headquarters, and released a statement online. “We are deeply saddened at the loss of our family members. … While the Mummers community is a close knit family, we ask for privacy for the families and our organization during this difficult time. The South Philadelphia String Band family will be making no further comment.”
On Jan. 5, the South Philly String Band posted a music tribute to their late members, performing and singing the early 20th century classic “We’ll Meet Again.” “This is what Mummery is all about. We are thinking of the Ferry, Palandro & Wiseley families. Music is always our favorite way to celebrate the memories of loved ones we have lost,” the group wrote on Facebook.
A collective foundation has been set up online in memory of all the victims of the crash, and individual GoFundmes have also been set up for the victims’ families. See links below.