Wednesday, July 22, 2009

No Charges In Fatal North Strabane Trailer Crash Woman Died, Child Survives With Injuries

No Charges In Fatal North Strabane Trailer Crash

Woman Died, Child Survives With Injuries

POSTED: 5:21 pm EDT May 6, 2009
UPDATED: 5:37 pm EDT May 6, 2009

No charges will be filed against a pickup truck driver who lost his trailer, which broke free on Route 19 and killed a woman when it went through her car's windshield.

The force of the trailer's impact peeled back the roof of Michelle Kott's car on Dec. 15 in North Strabane Township, Washington County.Kott was killed in the crash, while her friend, Brandi Curtis, and Curtis' 5-year-old daughter were seriously injured.

Related Story: Survivor Describes Crash, Faces Emotional, Physical Pain"After carefully reviewing the case with the North Strabane Police Department and the (state police) accident reconstruction team, the office of the district attorney does not believe that the facts support criminal culpability required for negligent homicide," said a statement from District Attorney Steven Toprani. "Specifically, it was determined that there was no evidence indicating gross negligence on the part of the truck and trailer operator, a necessary prerequisite element for criminal charges."A police report states that the pickup driver, Ryan Bier, 18, told North Strabane investigators that "he felt the trailer pulling hard on the truck and heard a loud pop."

The report also said Bier told police that the wind moved the trailer from side to side, then, "A large gust of wind came across Route 19 and picked the trailer off of the roadway and tossed it into the oncoming traffic."The driver's twin brother and passenger, Justin, also told police of a "yank" on the truck and a "loud pop" and said that "a large gust of wind pulled the trailer off of the roadway and (it) crashed into the car," according to the police report.Ryan Bier told investigators that before the accident, he personally made sure the trailer was secure and that he attached the trailer onto the truck's ball hitch, closed the clamp and put a pin through to lock the clamp.Ryan Bier also said he crossed the safety chains twice, attaching them to the truck bumper. He said his brother then jumped up and down on the trailer to check the connection and that the trailer was secure.

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