Monday, June 9, 2014
Bristol man held for trial in DUI-related fatal accident
Posted: Wednesday, June 4, 2014
Something about the way the gold Hyundai was traveling on Falls’ Route 13 that morning in March 2013 made Roy Laird want to get away from it, he said.
Laird said that he passed the car because it was driving too slow. Then, out of nowhere, it pulled alongside him and started fishtailing, Laird testified Tuesday at a preliminary hearing for Dean Wyckoff, 51, of Bristol, who is accused in the DUI-related accident that killed his passenger.
“About to lose control of the car, that is what it looked like to me,” he testified.
Laird said that he immediately backed off the gas pedal when suddenly the Hyundai crossed into the right lane in front of him – barely missing his car. Next, he saw the Hyundai strike a guardrail, go airborne and flip over before rolling down an embankment and landing in nearby Martins Creek.
About an hour later, the Hyundai’s front seat passenger — Steven Carroll, 57, of Trenton — was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital where he and Wyckoff had been taken for treatment, police said.
Falls police allege that Wyckoff is responsible for the March 14, 2013, accident that killed Carroll because he was driving under the influence. Blood tests taken after the accident found that Wyckoff had a blood alcohol level of .153, nearly twice the legal limit for driving in Pennsylvania. His blood also tested positive for marijuana metabolites.
Falls police Officer Christopher Iocona testified that Wyckoff told him that he had taken a prescription pain medication at 7 a.m. and 10 a.m. the day of the accident and between those times he drank three, 24-ounce bottles of Bud Ice beer. Later testimony revealed no trace of prescription painkillers in Wyckoff’s blood.
Iocona, who responded to the accident scene, also testified that he saw open beer cans in the car and smelled an odor of alcohol on both Wyckoff and Carroll, which led him to believe that Wyckoff had been incapable of safely operating a car around 11:30 a.m., when the accident occurred.
Wyckoff told Iocona that he lost control of the car after he was cut off while traveling south on Route 13 on his way to a Bristol Township bar, according to police.
But a second witness, Shannan O’Connor, also testified Tuesday that she noticed the gold Hyundai weaving in and out of traffic lanes on southbound Route 13, at times speeding up to 60 mph, then slowing to 30 mph, minutes before the accident. The Hyundai’s erratic driving prompted her to pass both Wyckoff’s and Laird’s cars, she testified.
“Something told me he was not right,” she said
Minutes after passing the cars, O’Connor told the court, she saw in her rearview mirror Wyckoff’s car barely miss striking Laird before striking the guardrail, flipping over and down the embankment into Martins Creek.
“I don’t know how he missed that other vehicle,” she added.
Falls police Officer John Trindle, an accident reconstruction investigator, testified that Wyckoff’s car was traveling at 67 to 72 mph at the time of the accident, which he attributed to a combination of speeding and intoxication.
Trindle said he examined Wyckoff’s car after the accident including the fluid levels, brake shoes and lines, shocks, steering and other components and all appeared to be working. He did find that one tire was the wrong size, and the tire tread on the others were lower than required.
He also found no evidence that the Hyundai made contact with a concrete median before shooting across Route 13 and striking the rail.
Following the testimony, District Judge Philip Daly, who is sitting in for Falls Judge Jan Vislosky, held Wyckoff for trial on all charges including homicide by vehicle while under the influence, homicide by vehicle, and driving under the influence. He remains in Bucks County prison in lieu of 10 percent of $50,000 bail, which Daly declined to reduce on Tuesday.