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Pennsylvania man sentenced for car accident that killed friends

Many of us have received speeding tickets or warnings from police to slow down. But speeding remains one of those traffic violations that people too often commit without taking the potential consequences seriously. The excuse that "everybody does it" doesn't seem unreasonable until a serious car accident occurs.

A driver from Upper St. Clair, Pennsylvania, who caused a crash that killed three of his passengers back in February 2010 said at his sentencing last month that not a day goes by that he doesn't think of the fatal accident. The 21-year-old man and four friends were traveling on Interstate 376 through Banksville when the driver lost control of the car and hit a highway barrier. The car then went off the road and rolled down a wooded hillside. The driver and his front-seat passenger survived, but all three backseat passengers were killed.

Prosecutors said the data recorder in the car showed it was traveling 106 mph five seconds before the air bags deployed. The driver's attorneys disputed the data, saying it was skewed and that road conditions contributed to the crash. But a judge convicted the driver of all 11 charges against him, including three counts of homicide by vehicle and three counts of involuntary manslaughter.

The young man received a sentence of 2.5 to six years in prison. At his sentencing hearing, he apologized to the victims' family members, who wore buttons with pictures of their loved ones. Their approval of the sentence appeared to be mixed. Some said they expected even less prison time, while others refused to accept the apologies of a man who took his friends' lives through careless actions. The mother of one of the victims said her son would get justice, possibly indicating a future civil lawsuit. She or any of the other victims' relatives could decide to pursue a wrongful death suit that would compensate them not only for any funeral or burial costs, but also for their pain and suffering over the last two years since the accident occurred.

Speeding may seem like the norm among drivers on the highway, but as this case shows, it can have devastating consequences. If he gets the chance to drive again after his release from prison, chances are good that the man who caused this accident will have learned from his mistake.

Source: TribLIVE, "Upper St. Clair man to spend up to six years in prison for causing wreck that killed three," Bobby Kerlik, June 26, 2012

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