Vandergrift driver breaks down in court over sister's death
By Brigid Beatty
Published: Wednesday, March 27, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
KITTANNING – A Westmoreland County woman charged with involuntary manslaughter in the death of her sister in a DUI-related crash in Parks last March, broke down while attempting to address the court during her sentencing on Tuesday.
Michelle Denise (Dibler) Lockard, 24, of 2211⁄2 Washington Ave., Vandergrift, was overcome by emotion when Armstrong County President Judge Kenneth Valasek asked if she wished to speak.
Valasek broke the silence that followed Lockard's emotional breakdown by acknowledging how difficult the situation was considering she lost her 26-year-old sister, Nicole “Nikki” Denise Dibler, as a result of driving drunk and under the influence of drugs on March 18 of last year.
State police at the time said Lockard lost control of her vehicle at around 1:30 a.m. while driving along River Road after she and her sister were returning home from Lockard's bachelorette party. The vehicle rolled and landed upside down in the Kiski River. Nikki Dibler was pronounced dead at the scene.
“You've lost in several senses,” said Valasek, adding “This is a horrible circumstance. You are indeed responsible for this.”
Valasek also noted that Lockard's parents, who were present in the courtroom, also were victims in the case.
Lockard, who was initially charged with homicide by vehicle while under the influence – in addition to DUI and other driving related charges – had those charges reduced in exchange for pleading guilty in February to the lesser charge of involuntary manslaughter and driving under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance.
According to Valasek, Lockard's mother, Mandy Dibler, submitted a victim impact letter to the court noting how difficult the situation had been for the entire family, including Lockard's 6-year-old child.
Valasek told Lockard he would honor her mother's request for house arrest with electronic monitoring.
However, he said, “The crime does demand some punishment in connection to this horrible death of your sister.”
Lockard was sentenced to 30 months in the county's intermediate punishment program, with 15 months to be served within the confines of her residence subject to electronic monitoring, and 15 months within the restorative sanctions program.
She was ordered to pay $2,010.50 in fines and costs, must complete a highway safety course, a drug and alcohol evaluation and 30 hours of community service. She was credited with two days served.
Brigid Beatty is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-543-1303 or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Survivors in critical condition a day after fifth Armstrong County car crash victim dies
- Freeport teacher from Ford City honored
- Cowanshannock American Legion loses building but keeps marching on
- West Kittanning getting bids for mowers of overgrown lawns
- Apollo Earth Day Dash to benefit trail expansion
- Boggs man avoids ‘too good to be true’ scam
- Ford City must determine solution to pay off $21,000 in water supply fines
- Vandals strike Kittanning doctor’s memorial in picnic area
- ‘Women Build’ tackles 2 Armstrong Habitat projects
- Parker names city’s Citizen of theYear
- Auditor takes West Franklin to court