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Saltsburg man sentenced for homicide by vehicle

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Tuesday, March 19, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

A Saltsburg man was ordered to report to jail on March 24 to begin serving a three- to six-year sentence for killing his friend in a car crash nearly two years ago.

Clifford Porterfield, 56, was sentenced on Monday on his conviction in November of homicide by vehicle while driving under the influence.

During a nonjury trial, prosecutors said Porterfield was drunk on May 13, 2011, when he crashed his sport-utility vehicle in Loyalhanna Township.

Ronald Puzak, 43, of Saltsburg died from injuries he suffered in the crash.

Police said Porterfield lost control of his vehicle, which skidded across the road, scraped a guide rail and went airborne for about 20 feet before it hit a tree.

Puzak died from blunt-force trauma to his abdomen.

During the trial before Westmoreland County Judge John Blahovec, prosecutors said Porterfield had a blood alcohol level of 0.15 percent, nearly twice the limit a motorist is considered to be intoxicated in Pennsylvania, 0.08 percent.

Porterfield testified that Puzak, who was seated in the passenger's seat, caused the crash when he shoved the driver. Porterfield claimed the two fought because he learned Puzak had tried to quit his job earlier that day.

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