Ligonier man charged after younger friend dies in DUI crash

| Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2012, 12:01 a.m.

The apologies came hours after Jonathan Kristiansen's life came to a tragic end on a Cook Township road, police said.

The same day that 17-year-old Kristiansen died when his car struck a tree, a friend called the teen's father and brother to apologize for giving him alcohol just before he crashed.

Now, Jonathan Michael Rainey, 23, of 107 S. St. Clair St., Apt. 2, Ligonier, faces involuntary manslaughter and other charges for allegedly providing the alcohol that led to Kristiansen's accident.

Around 4:30 a.m. on March 31, Kristiansen, a student at Ligonier Valley High School and Eastern Westmoreland Career and Technology Center, was driving along Route 711 near Caven Road when he lost control of his Mitsubishi Eclipse and struck a tree. Kristiansen was ejected and died at the scene, police said.

Later that day, Ligonier police Officer Barbara J. Howard was at the Kristiansen residence with the victim's father, Larry Kristiansen. She told state police that she overheard a telephone call from Rainey.

Rainey allegedly told Larry Kristiansen that he was sorry about the accident. He told the boy's father that the teen was at Rainey's apartment until 2:45 a.m. He said he wished he had not given the boy any alcohol to drink, police said.

Rainey told Larry Kristiansen that his son had taken the prescription drugs Adderall and Percocet, according to a police affidavit.

Around 11 p.m. the night of the accident, Rainey called the teen's brother, Nicholas Kristiansen, and asked him to come to Rainey's apartment. There, Rainey handed Nicholas Kristiansen an empty bottle of vodka and asked if he would like to keep it since it was the last thing that his brother drank before his death, police said.

Rainey allegedly said he felt bad that he had allowed Jonathan Kristiansen to drive home, knowing he was intoxicated.

Nicholas Kristiansen did not take the empty bottle. But he told police Rainey handed him $200 with no explanation the next time they saw each other.

State police said toxicology reports indicated that Kristiansen's blood-alcohol content was 0.163 percent at the time of the accident. That is twice the legal driving limit for adults and eight times the legal limit for minors.

Charges of involuntary manslaughter, reckless endangerment, corruption of minors and furnishing alcohol to minors were filed against Rainey late last week before Ligonier District Judge Denise Thiel.

State police spokesman Trooper Stephen Limani said the case is another example of why adults should not give alcohol to minors.

“It's absolutely horrible we lost another life of a youngster,” he said. “It's something that's tragic, and it's avoidable.”

Jennifer Reeger is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.

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