Trial ordered for Connellsville man charged in fatal collision
A Connellsville man charged with homicide by vehicle in the death of a 22-year-old Acme man is headed to Fayette County Court for trial.
Connellsville District Judge Ronald Haggerty Jr., following a preliminary hearing on Thursday, held for court charges against Jonathan Schroyer, 26.
Last month, state police at Uniontown charged Schroyer with three traffic violations that they said caused the death of David Prah Jr., 22, of Acme.
Police said Schroyer was in his truck traveling southbound on Route 119 when he drove through a red traffic signal and struck Prah's Honda Civic as it was pulling out from West Blake Avenue. The collision occurred around noon Nov. 29, 2011. Prah was transported to Highlands Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 12:34 p.m. attributed to blunt-force trauma to the head; he also had skull and rib fractures, according to a coroner's report.
Trooper Gregory Furin, of the state police at Uniontown, testified he interviewed Schroyer at the accident scene. Furin said that although Schroyer was shaken up, he didn't appear to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Furin said Schroyer told him he thought he had the green light and that when Prah's vehicle drove out in front of him, he didn't have time to react.
Michael Kelley of Connellsville was in a vehicle behind Prah's car on West Blake Avenue.
Kelley testified that Prah's vehicle didn't accelerate until a few seconds after the light turned green and that Kelley gave his horn a honk to let Prah know the light had changed.
He said the truck hit the car on the driver's side door at full speed.
Cpl. John Weaver, a supervisor of collision analysis and collision-reconstruction investigations for the state police at Uniontown, testified that after analyzing data from Schroyer's truck computer, he found that Schroyer was driving 50 mph in a 55-mph zone five seconds before the collision. Schroyer applied the brakes one second before impact, striking Prah's vehicle at 48 mph.
“There was 9.5 seconds where the driver failed to take action,” Weaver said, adding that the traffic light was yellow for five seconds and was red for 4.5 seconds prior to the collision. He said there were no issues with the traffic light, which is set and maintained by PennDOT.
Weaver said the collision was caused by Schroyer, either by inattentiveness while driving or an attempt to drive through the yellow traffic signal to avoid the red light.
Schroyer's attorney, Ronald Kristobak, argued that the homicide-by-vehicle charges should be dismissed because of the statute's language.
“You must prove recklessness or gross negligence,” Kristobak said, adding that Schroyer had no intention of homicide when allegedly violating a traffic ordinance. “Merely running a red light is not gross negligence or recklessness.”
A formal arraignment has been scheduled at 9:30 a.m. Jan. 16 in Courtroom 3 at Fayette County Courthouse.
Schroyer is free on $10,000 unsecured bond.
Mark Hofmann is a staff writer with Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-626-3539 or firstname.lastname@example.org.