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Ex-Rostraver firefighter faces DUI trial in fire truck mishap

| Thursday, Jan. 13, 2005

SCOTTDALE - A former Rostraver Township firefighter accused of crashing a fire truck while driving drunk on the way to a fire call was ordered Wednesday to stand trial.

John Michael Kimball, 36, of 513 Lebanon School Road, Rostraver Township, was charged with two misdemeanor counts of driving under the influence and two summary traffic violations related to the 10:15 p.m. Sept. 25 crash.

During a preliminary hearing before District Justice J. Bruce King, of Scottdale, firefighter John Alexander Bowery testified that he and his father, Greg Dunlap, were passengers in the rescue truck Kimball was driving.

Bowery said he and his father met Bowery at Rostraver Central Volunteer Fire Department while responding to a fire call in South Huntingdon Township.

Bowery said he and the two men agreed to drive the rescue truck to the scene, even though they had not been dispatched.

They agreed to go in case support was needed, according to Bowery's testimony.

Bowery said Kimball volunteered to drive because he was the only one "cleared" to operate the vehicle.

"Mr. Kimball meant well in what he was doing," Bowery said.

Bowery said he noticed an odor of alcohol on Kimball after getting inside the truck.

He said Kimball was "all over the road" and "riding the rumble strip down the highway" during the ride.

Bowery said he asked Kimball if he had been drinking, adding Kimball denied being drunk.

Bowery said Kimball failed to negotiate a sharp turn and the truck sideswiped a wall, damaging fire fighting equipment on the outside of the vehicle.

After the incident, Kimball admitted to "having a couple of drinks," Bowery said.

Bowery said the truck was damaged but drivable. He said his father drove the vehicle back to the fire station after the accident. Police arrived to question Kimball.

State Tpr. Eric Zona, of the Belle Vernon barracks, said Kimball was visibly intoxicated and failed a field sobriety test.

A blood sample conducted later at Monongahela Valley Hospital revealed Kimball's blood alcohol level to be 0.12 percent.

The state's legal limit for intoxication is 0.08 percent.

King released Kimball on his own recognizance.

Kimball's attorney, Michael J. Savona, said his client has no criminal record.

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