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Double motorcycle fatality trial opens in eastern Pa.

Two men died in the summer of 2011 when a pickup truck rounded a curve and crashed into a group of motorcyclists. The suspect blamed for the fatal motorcycle accident -- which also injured four of seven riders in the group -- is a retired police officer who prosecutors claim exhibited signs of being drunk.

A Pennsylvania court is trying the out-of-state resident on vehicular homicide charges for striking and killing the motorcycle accident victims along Route 512. A woman who was driving behind the members of the Last Chance Motorcycle Club testified that she saw an oncoming truck in the wrong lane slam into the biker group.

In oral arguments, prosecutors said police investigators found a glassy-eyed driver who obviously smelled of alcohol. The suspect apparently passed two of three field sobriety tests and refused to permit authorities to take a sample of his blood.

Court records say the defendant spent the earlier part of the day fishing and drinking beer and vodka tonics. A defense attorney argued that the suspect had not been drunk at the time of the crash. The lawyer asserted that his client had a medical condition which made the former officer prone to fainting in hot weather.

The legal advisor claimed two medical experts felt the cause was hypoglycemia, resulting in low blood sugar, and caused the defendant to pass out. The suspect told police he woke up with "someone bouncing off my windshield." Further claims charged an uninjured biker with striking the defendant after the accident.

Conflicting evidence makes the outcome of a criminal trial uncertain. A civil court might determine that a driver, who was drunk or failed to address a known medical condition, is liable for the harm he caused.

Two deaths and four injuries were the result of the same-lane collision. A negligent driver has an economic responsibility to accident victims. Damages may be sought through wrongful death and personal injury lawsuits.

Source: poconorecord.com, "Witnesses testify about East Bangor crash that killed motorcyclists," Tom Shortell, Dec. 4, 2012

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