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Detective: Pennsylvania driver lied to avoid homicide charges

A driver testified that a truck followed her vehicle too closely through the small Pennsylvania community of Lower Pottsgrove. The witness to a fatal car accident in November said she tapped the brakes to warn the tailgating driver of an upcoming turn.

The pickup allegedly roared around the turning car and struck a 16-year-old boy in the left lane. A detective in charge of the accident investigation said the teen was hit at high speed and hurtled more than 180 feet through the air. The victim later died.

The detective was told the truck driver was a 43-year-old woman traveling with her boyfriend and two sons. The woman was escorted to a nearby hospital for a blood test to find out if she had been driving drunk.

Authorities later learned that the boyfriend apparently was behind the wheel when the pedestrian was struck. The 43-year-old man was charged with homicide by vehicle and coercion for urging his girlfriend's sons to lie.

The lead detective said the boyfriend smelled of alcohol and admitted he had been drinking. The boyfriend's blood was never tested. The investigator reported that the truck was speeding at up to 15 mph over the 35 mph speed limit. The court learned that the driver's line of sight may have been obscured.

Bail was set at $1 million because the suspect was thought to be a flight risk. The accused man had a previous conviction for manslaughter in an alcohol-related crash that killed an elderly, out-of-state woman.

The defendant's girlfriend was held on $100,000 cash bail for her reported participation in the cover up.

A criminal court will try and possibly convict the driver for breaking laws. A civil court would take the matter to a personal level. The driver could be found negligent in a wrongful death suit where the result might be a financial settlement or jury award for the grieving family.

Source: pottsmerc.com, "Driver accused of fatally striking Lower Pottsgrove teen heads to trial," Frank Otto, Jan. 11, 2013

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