Fayette veteran gets up to 6 years in fatal DUI crash
By Liz Zemba
Published: Friday, Jan. 3, 2014, 12:01 a.m.
A Fayette County war veteran on Thursday was sentenced to three to six years in state prison for a fatal drunken-driving accident in 2012 that killed a father of two.
Gary Lee Brackenbury Jr., 34, apologized to the victim's family before he was sentenced by President Judge John F. Wagner Jr.
The victim's family said they are grieving a loss that is senseless.
“I'm tore up over this,” Brackenbury said. “This has affected me worse in the head than any sentence.”
Redstone police said Brackenbury was speeding while impaired along Route 40 on Aug. 1, 2012, when his pickup crashed into a car driven by Anthony Balosky, 35, of Republic.
Balosky died at the scene of blunt-force trauma, according to an autopsy report.
Balosky's sister, Joyce Ruffcorn, said in a victim-impact statement that her brother's death has devastated their family, especially Balosky's two sons.
“It's not fair Anthony's sons have to go through the rest of their lives without their dad,” she said. “The crime you committed was so senseless.”
Ruffcorn said her brother was on his way back to work when Brackenbury killed him.
“You took something from all of us that we will never get back,” Ruffcorn said. “It has been so hard dealing with this death that didn't have to happen.”
Brackenbury served in Iraq, according to his attorney, Michael Sherman of Pittsburgh. Sherman said Brackenbury has since sought help through the county Veterans Affairs department.
Wagner said Brackenbury is to be commended for his service to his country, but he noted that any post-traumatic stress issues are no excuse for his decision to drink and drive.
Wagner pointed out that at the end of three years, Brackenbury likely will leave prison to return to his mother, who is disabled and relies on her son for assistance, according to Sherman.
Balosky will never return to his family, Wagner said.
“There's no turning the clock back,” Wagner said. “There's no way to restore what your actions have done to that family.”
The sentence was in accordance with a plea bargain in which Brackenbury pleaded guilty to homicide by vehicle while driving under the influence and related charges.
Brackenbury's sentencing was delayed for approximately an hour when Ruffcorn indicated during her victim-impact statement that the family was not in agreement with the proposed prison sentence.
After consulting with Assistant District Attorney Anthony Iannamorelli outside the courtroom, they advised the judge they are satisfied with the sentence. They declined additional comment.
“This does offer the family some sense of closure,” Iannamorelli said. “It's a guaranteed sentence to be served in a state correctional institution.”
In addition to the prison term, Wagner sentenced Balosky to six months' probation in an unrelated DUI that occurred a year prior to the deadly crash.
In that case, Redstone police said Brackenbury and another man drove their vehicles through several fields at Patsy Hillman Park on Aug. 14, 2011, intentionally colliding and extensively damaging both vehicles.
Liz Zemba is a reporter for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-601-2166 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
- Lemont woman accused of stealing purses, using credit cards
- West Leisenring band’s EP release party to benefit firefighters
- Recording studio joins Connellsville community center’s growing artist enclave
- Election board rejects ballot referendum on Fayette County prison issues
- Geibel alumnus Sammy Brooks to perform jazz during tuition fundraiser on Saturday