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Pa. man admitted fault in DUI wreck that killed girlfriend

A Tunkhannock man admitted to authorities that he shouldn't have been behind the wheel the night he and his girlfriend were involved in a fatal crash. The car accident in northeastern Wyoming County's Eaton Township cost the 29-year-old woman passenger her life.

The victim and her 34-year-old boyfriend were celebrating together on the night before Thanksgiving. The pair shared dinner and multiple drinks before and after visiting a Tunkhannock bar. The suspected drunk driver told troopers he had whiskey just before the couple left the bar in a passenger truck.

The driver lost control of a pickup truck on a curve less than three miles from his home. The vehicle struck a tree just before midnight. The woman passenger was transferred to two hospitals before she died from accident injuries on Thanksgiving. Neither the victim nor the driver was wearing seat belts.

Failure to buckle up is the least serious of the suspect's charges, which include careless driving, manslaughter, speeding, homicide by vehicle and a separate DUI homicide charge. The Tunkhannock resident was jailed on $75,000 bail following a hearing before a Wyoming County magistrate.

Police reported that the suspect showed physical signs of drunkenness at the crash site and tested positive for alcohol use on a breath test. The test showed the defendant had nearly twice as much alcohol in his system as was allowed by law. The defendant admitted to and was charged with numerous crimes, including the death of his girlfriend.

The accident victim's family could choose to add civil charges to the criminal accusations that already exist. A wrongful death lawsuit might reimburse family members for the victim's hospital care and funeral.

Other damages could be sought due to negligence. Any proven charge that contributed to the woman's harm would influence the amount of a wrongful death settlement or jury award.

Source: thetimes-tribune.com, "Police: Man charged with vehicular homicide had 0.15% blood-alcohol content," Robert L. Baker, Nov. 27, 2012

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