South Greensburg man convicted in crash that kills friend
Westmoreland County jurors deliberated for more than three hours and found a South Greensburg man guilty of causing a fatal car crash that killed his best friend.
The jury on Wednesday convicted David O'Hara, 24, of one count of vehicular homicide for the April 11, 2009 crash on Swede Hill Road in Hempfield that killed 20-year-old Tyler Bridges.
The jury found that O'Hara was driving under the influence, but that his alcohol consumption did not cause him to lose control of his car and slam into a tree head-on.
Jurors acquitted O'Hara of the most serious charge, homicide by vehicle while driving drunk, which carries a mandatory sentence of three to six years in prison.
Defense attorney Jeff Monzo said that by virtue of the conviction, O'Hara faces three to 12 months in jail under standard sentencing guidelines.
“We're pleased with the verdict,” Monzo said. “His (O'Hara's) reaction is that he wakes up every day wishing he could take back that night his friend was killed.”
Assistant District Attorney Greg DeFloria could not be reached for comment.
During the three-day trial, the prosecution contended that O'Hara's drinking led to the fatal crash.
DeFloria presented evidence that O'Hara had a blood-alcohol level of 0.144 percent at the time of the crash, seven times the 0.02 percent limit at which an underage motorist is considered to be intoxicated in Pennsylvania. O'Hara was 20 at the time of the crash.
Police witnesses said O'Hara was speeding when he failed to negotiate a curve in the road. His car was traveling 56 mph when it hit the tree, according to the prosecution.
The defense argued the dangerous condition of the road caused the crash.
Dr. Ron Eck, a civil engineer from West Virginia, testified Wednesday that the road had inadequate advance warning of a curve, did not properly show drivers the twisting path, and had inadequate banking and a narrow, unstable shoulder.
“It would cause a driver to make erratic movements,” Eck said of the road's condition.
O'Hara will remain free on $25,000 unsecured bail until he is sentenced by Judge Debra A. Pezze in about three months.
Rich Cholodofsky is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-830-6293 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.
- Former Ligonier Township supervisor accused of costing residents thousands, viewing porn on the job
- Municipal Authority of Westmoreland County upgrades emergency communications plan
- Laurel Mountain State Park ski plans will go to Ligonier Township supervisors
- Redstone gets $90K grant for safety upgrade
- Mt. Pleasant man injured when tractor hit by vehicle
- The real Captain Phillips brings story of piracy to St. Vincent College
- $10K grants will help people purchase homes in Monessen
- Records access charges will rise in Westmoreland County
- Physicist found joy in family, friends, work, wine
- WCCC changes dual-enrollment policy