Charge Dropped In Fatal Somerset County Accident

By David Highfield

HEMPFIELD TOWNSHIP (KDKA) — It was three years ago this week that 36-year-old Marlana Sarver was killed as she tried to make a turn on Route 30 in Somerset County, near Stoystown.

A coal truck rear-ended her car and her young son was seriously hurt. Now, the boy’s father is angry with a judge’s recent ruling.

“It’s wrong,” said Jeff Springer of Hempfield Township, Westmoreland County.

An investigation showed that the coal truck had faulty brakes and some bald tires, so both the truck’s driver, Michael Sullivan, and the truck’s owner were charged with involuntary manslaughter, among other charges.

But the Somerset County District Attorney says an investigation showed that the driver never actually applied the brakes, so the argument before the judge was that faulty brakes didn’t actually cause the crash.

The judge dismissed the most serious charges against the truck’s owner.

“Nobody will ever say anything that will make me believe that that man shouldn’t be held criminally responsible for what happened here,” said Springer.

Springer is now raising the couple’s 6-year-old son Jeremiah, and says he talks to his son about his mother often.

“It rips my heart out,” Springer said. “She was a great mom and I miss her.”

Sullivan still faces serious charges. The truck’s owner now only faces summary charges.

Springer would like laws changed to hold truck owners more accountable and to give them more incentive to maintain the trucks that are put on the road.

  • bettygerbil

    i agree with the victims family these trucks fly on the roads and they should be more accountable some trucks get on the back of your bumper and pass you maybe the truckers should be payed by the hour and not by the load that puts speeding on them to get their loads so they make money this womans life can never be replaced and her son has to grow up without her it is a shame

  • Emily

    I agree with the victims husband. The owner of the truck should be held responsible just as if i would have faulty brakes and kill someone i would be held responsible. If the driver of the truck did something like make a wrong turn, etc. then the driver should be charged not the owner of the truck.

  • C. Springer

    I hope the people of Somerset county pay attention to who this judge is and vote him out at the next election. That truck should never have been on the road that day and whether the brakes were applied or not the owner is still at fault for placing an unsafe truck on the road!!!!!!! It’s all about the almighty dollar and NEVER about the safety of others!

  • Darlene

    Marlana Sarver also had a wonderful teenage daughter she never got to see graduate from high school, she was so proud of Marita. Jeremiah will grow up with other peoples memories of his mom. Wonder if the DA & the judges family were in the accident if the outcome would have been the same. These trucks should not be allowed on the road if they are not in good condition!, vote these two out of office the next election !

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