Criminal charges may follow civil suit 1 year after Scranton, PA deadly accident

An accident near Scranton, PA that resulted in the deaths of two siblings last October may result in criminal charges being brought against the driver of the truck. A civil suit was already brought against the truck driver and alleges that the driver was impaired by synthetic marijuana at the time of the truck accident.

The civil suit also includes the truck driver’s employer, Cerminaro Construction Co., and names the company as a defendant. The suit alleges that the company was aware of the truck driver’s criminal background, including prior reckless driving and/or driving under the influence. Included in the truck driver’s criminal history was a 2005 guilty plea to assault, as well as a 2004 guilty plea of driving under the influence.

Reports indicated that the driver of the truck “drove 500 feet across a grassy median at 55 mph, went airborne, and sheered off the root of the twins’ vehicle.”  (Source:   Loudon, J. Bennett (2012) “Charges expected in Pa. crash that killed siblings Lynn and Bill McKernan“, Rochester Democrat & Chronicle, 26 Sept. 2012)

Robert Klein, Deputy Lackawanna County District Attorney, recently visited Pittsford, NY, a suburb of Rochester. Klein indicated during his visit to the siblings’ family that he anticipates criminal charges to be made against the truck driver, although he noted that the investigation is not complete and is still active.

Deadly Truck Accident

The truck driver involved in a crash near Scranton, Pa., that killed two Rochester-area siblings almost a year ago is expected to be charged in the case, but the investigation is not yet complete.

On Oct. 6, 2011, Bill McKernan and his twin sister Lynn McKernan, both 40, died in the truck accident. Bill McKernan’s wife, Melissa, and her family have filed a civil suit alleging that the driver of the dump truck, Wayne S. Kichar, was high on synthetic marijuana when he drove 500 feet across a grassy median at 55 mph, went airborne, and sheered off the roof of the twins’ vehicle.

But criminal charges have yet to be filed in the case.

Deputy Lackawanna County District Attorney Robert Klein was in Pittsford Wednesday to meet with relatives of the twins and update them on the investigation.

“We anticipate charges,” Klein said after the meeting at the office of lawyer Ed Hourihan, who is representing the family in the civil suit.

“We’re still working on several issues. Our policy is we don’t comment on any case that is not completed. We have not filed charges yet in this case. It is an active and ongoing investigation,” Klein said.

In the civil suit, Cerminaro Construction Co., based in Jermyn, Pa., was also listed as a defendant. The suit claims the company was aware of Kichar’s “criminal history and history of recklessly driving under the influence,” but let him drive anyway.

According to court records, in 2005 Kichar was sentenced to four months to a year after he pleaded guilty to assault. In 2004, he was sentenced to three days to six months when he pleaded guilty to driving under the influence.

After a 90-minute meeting with Klein, Dustin Graupman, who is married to the twin’s sister, Liz, said “there are still some questions that need to be answered in both directions.”

“They are doing their best to leave no stone unturned and develop the case to the best of their ability to charge the driver with the most suitable set of charges that apply,” Dustin Graupman said.

“We do appreciate that they’ve kept us engaged in the process and not shut us out, given that it has become public, but the process is flawed from our perspective no matter what. It’s just unfortunate that we are approaching a year and there’s not that step in the process to try to bring some closure,” he said.

References

Loudon, Bennett J. (2012) Charges expected in Pa. crash that killed siblings Lynn and Bill McKernan. Rochester Democrat and Chronicle: Sept. 26, 2012. Retrieved 1 Oct. 2012 from http://www.democratandchronicle.com/article/20120926/NEWS01/309260044

 

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