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Assault charges upheld in DUI wreck involving Penn Township man

| Thursday, Feb. 20, 2014, 11:45 p.m.

A Penn Township man will face aggravated assault charges for allegedly causing a crash while he was intoxicated more than three years ago.

Westmoreland County Judge Al Bell on Thursday ruled there was sufficient evidence to support the charges that two passengers in a car driven by Derek Grove on Oct. 15, 2010, were seriously injured when his speeding Chevrolet Malibu left the roadway and hit a tree.

Grove, 21, was charged with drunken driving and assault. Police said Grove had a blood-alcohol level of 0.178 percent, which is more than twice the limit a motorist in Pennsylvania is considered to be intoxicated.

Police contend that Grove, then a college sophomore, was intoxicated after drinking Four Loko, a caffeinated malt liquor beverage.

North Huntingdon police said Grove's sedan was traveling 88 mph five seconds before it crashed on Morris Avenue, just east of Oak Hollow Park.

According to court records, Grove's car struck a tree at 65 mph. Police said the speed limit on that section of the road is 45 mph.

Witnesses told police that Grove and his passengers drank the caffeinated alcoholic beverage in the park before the crash.

Passengers Christian Bosco, 21, and Thomas Newman, 20, were injured in the crash. Bosco suffered a broken leg and other injuries, and Newman sustained a spinal fracture and head injuries, according to court records.

Grove appeared in court last year and through his attorney, Richard Galloway, said he was willing to plead guilty only to the drunken-driving charge and accept a sentence of house arrest.

Galloway claimed the injuries Bosco and Newman sustained were not life-threatening and asked that the assault charges be dismissed.

In an eight-page opinion released Thursday, Bell said the injuries were serious and that prosecutors could take the assault charges to trial.

“The evidence indicates that injuries sustained by Thomas Newman and Christian Bosco meets the legal definition of serious bodily injury,” Bell ruled.

No date for Grove's trial has been scheduled.

Rich Cholodofsky is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-830-6293or rcholodofsky@tribweb.com.

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