Driver guilty in Plum crash that killed junior firefighter, woman |
Valley News Dispatch

Driver guilty in Plum crash that killed junior firefighter, woman

Chuck Biedka
Edward Cass III
Michael Zier II

A Saltsburg man will serve at least six years in prison for causing a crash in Plum that killed a junior firefighter from Tarentum and his girlfriend’s mother.

Edward Leonard Cass III, 27, was convicted on all charges, including two counts of homicide by vehicle while driving under the influence. Allegheny County Judge David R. Cashman heard the case as a nonjury trial and handed down his verdict Wednesday morning.

Cashman scheduled sentencing for Sept. 24, according to district attorney spokesman Mike Manko. Cass is facing a mandatory six to 12 years in prison. In the meantime, he remains free on bond.

Cass was intoxicated Aug. 6, 2017, when he crashed a vehicle head-on into an SUV along Route 286 in Plum.

Michael Zier II, 17, a junior firefighter in Tarentum who was entering his senior year at Highlands High School, and Beth Ann Beveridge of Tarentum died in the crash. Beveridge’s daughter, who also was in the car, was injured.

A criminal complaint said Cass had fentanyl and THC in his system.

Cass was convicted of five felonies. The others were two counts of homicide by vehicle and one count of aggravated assault by a vehicle while driving under the influence.

Defense attorney Patrick Thomassey said neither Beveridge or Zier were wearing seat belts that night, but her daughter, who was wearing a seat belt, survived the crash.

A 1998 state law didn’t permit him to enter that evidence into testimony.

“The law should be changed,” Thomassey said. “The causation of death is important in cases like this.

“At least the back seat passenger (Zier) could have survived,” he said.

Chuck Biedka is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Chuck at 724-226-4711, [email protected] or via Twitter .

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