Woman waives hearing on charges in accident that killed area resident
The woman who was driving a truck that ran over and killed a North Belle Vernon resident waived her right to a preliminary hearing Monday.
Denise Kuskie, 36, of 215 Water St., Belle Vernon, is charged with homicide by vehicle, recklessly endangering another person, careless driving, and traffic violations for limitations on backing and general requirements for breaking systems in connection with the Oct. 16 incident that killed John Stura, 78.
Stura was on his way into the National City Bank in North Belle Vernon that afternoon to deposit bingo money for the borough's fire department when he was struck by a Ford Bronco driven by Kuskie.
At the time, Kuskie told police she was pulling out of the bank parking lot when she heard a "thud," and panicked, hitting the accelerator pedal instead of the brake."
At the accident scene, Kuskie said she was "blindsided," and that Stura came out of nowhere.
After the truck hit Stura, it continued through the parking lot and came to rest in a landscaped area.
Stura, a lifetime member of the fire department, died a short time later from injuries caused by the incident.
North Belle Vernon police and state police from the Belle Vernon barracks have spent the past several months investigating the incident.
According to an affidavit of probable cause filed at Magisterial District Judge Charles Christner's office in West Newton, an inspection showed there were no working rear brakes on the truck, the front brakes needed repaired, there was no brake fluid, and the emergency brake did not work.
According to the affidavit, John Kerekes, of Belle Vernon, told police he was at the automated teller machine at the bank when he saw Kuskie and a passenger pull into the parking lot at the bank. Kerekes stated he heard tires spinning and saw the Bronco still in the parking stall with its rear wheels spinning and smoke coming from the tires. He said the vehicle then began to move back at a high rate of speed and struck Stura.
Kerekes then told police after Kuskie hit Stura with the truck, he fell to the ground and the vehicle continued running him over with the tires still spinning. Kerekes said Kuskie tried to move the truck forward, but it wouldn't move, according to the affidavit. That's when Kuskie got out of the truck and said, "I didn't see him," according to the complaint.
Kuskie was arrested at her home March 12 and arraigned before Christner. After her preliminary hearing, she was released on a non-monetary bond.