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Vandergrift man guilty in DUI fatal

Rich Cholodofsky
| Wednesday, Oct. 8, 2014, 11:27 p.m.
Chad Fravel, 26, of Washington Township.
Submitted
Chad Fravel, 26, of Washington Township.

A Vandergrift man could serve more than 30 years in prison because he was convicted Wednesday of causing a crash two years ago that left another man dead.

A Westmoreland County jury deliberated less than an hour before it convicted Chad Fravel, 27, of all 11 counts in connection with the April 26, 2012 crash on Orr Avenue in Oklahoma Borough.

During the two-day trial before Judge Meagan Bilik-DeFazio, the prosecution contended Fravel was drunk when he sped toward a curve in the road and crossed over into oncoming traffic, sending his vehicle head-on into a pickup truck driven by Robert Lytle, 51, of Avonmore.

Lytle died at the scene from injuries suffered in the crash.

His brother, Paul Lytle, 35, of Pittsburgh suffered a broken leg.

“He (Fravel) was intoxicated. That's what caused the crash,” said Assistant District Attorney Allen Powanda.

The prosecution presented evidence that Fravel had a blood-alcohol level of 0.198 percent, more than twice the limit at which a motorist in Pennsylvania is considered to be intoxicated.

Powanda said evidence from the crash scene suggested Fravel, who was traveling 74 mph, continued to accelerate his truck until it hit Lytle's vehicle. The speed limit was just 35 mph, Powanda said.

Fravel did not testify during the trial, and the defense presented no witnesses on his behalf.

Defense attorney Al Lindsey argued that, although Fravel was drunk, it was the speed at which he was driving that caused the crash.

The defense conceded that Fravel was guilty of drunken driving and vehicular homicide, but not the more serious charge of homicide by vehicle while driving under the influence.

“The mere fact there was alcohol does not in and of itself make him guilty of that offense,” Lindsey said.

That offense carries a mandatory sentence of three to six years in prison.

Powanda said he will ask Bilik-DeFazio to impose consecutive sentences during a hearing to be held in about three months.

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

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