A 27-year-old western Pennsylvania man has been sentenced to more than two years in prison for his role in the death of his best friend. The Mercer County resident caused a drunk-driving car crash in 2011 that killed his friend. The crash occurred just miles from a fatal 2002 wreck that also involved the driver.

The wreck took the life of the man’s 25-year-old best friend, according to court records. The suspect was convicted on four charges, which included homicide by motor vehicle, drunk driving and accidents involving death.

Authorities say the accident took place about 1:30 a.m. on May 11, 2011, after the pair had been drinking at a bar in Otter Creek Township. A truck driven by the defendant struck a tree, partially throwing the victim from the vehicle. He died shortly after the accident because of the serious injuries he suffered during the crash. The driver reported that he does not remember the accident, but he called for help when he came to and realized his friend was hurt.

Passengers generally put their trust in the hands of drivers. They expect that their friends will act responsibly and safely while operating a vehicle. In this case, the driver was not responsible enough to protect his friend. Court records show that his blood alcohol content was more than twice the legal limit at the time of the crash.

The victim’s family has already attempted to sue the bar where the pair was drinking, claiming that bar personnel should have identified the defendant’s drunkenness. The bar has filed a motion for dismissal.

The family could also recover civil awards from the driver in this case; the victim’s relatives could choose to file a wrongful death or pain and suffering suit against the man. Proceeds from such a civil award could be used to pay for funeral expenses and outstanding medical bills associated with the crash.

Source: New Castle News, “Drunk driver going to prison for fatal crash,” Courtney L. Saylor, Nov. 20, 2012