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Man Accused In Fatal South Side Crash In Court

By: Heather Abraham
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(Photo Credit: Pittsburgh Bureau of Police/KDKA)

(Photo Credit: Pittsburgh Bureau of Police/KDKA)

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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The young man from Greene County accused in an accident on Pittsburgh’s South Side that claimed the life of a little girl and injured her mother was in court today.

Travis Isiminger, 23, of Holbrook, Pa., is now facing an upgraded charge of third degree murder in the December 2010 crash.

It was described by one Pittsburgh Police sergeant in court today as the worst damage he’s seen in his career. The devastating crash killed 7-year-old Lexa Cleland.

“An individual is three times the legal limit of intoxication and he decides to get behind the wheel of a vehicle and drive down the crowded street of East Carson Street, and go 66 miles an hour in a 25 mile per hour zone,” said prosecutor Mark Tranquilli.

Isiminger admitted in written statements to having three liters of beer before getting in his car. Authorities say his breathalyzer tests were .224 and a .219.

He crashed into an on-coming car and then ran away from the scene.

“Its almost a certainty that if you get behind the car with that level of intoxication, and drive at that speed, at that time, at that location, that someone is going to get grievously injured,” added Tranquilli.

The victim’s mother, Nicole Cleland, is still recovering from several injuries she sustained in the crash.

Cleland’s husband, Mark, was in court today along with their daughter, Kathleen, who was in the car at the time of the crash but was uninjured.

“I think he’s just counting his blessings at this point. He still has his wife. They still have one child,” Tranquilli said. “I think what he’s interested in at this point is just seeing justice for the daughter that they lost.”

Defense attorney Charles Lopresti spoke about disagreeing with the third degree murder charge and how noticeably upset his client was in court.

“Could you imagine within just a four or five second period of time, because of something that’s an accident, an unforeseen occurrence, he’s looking at all this,” said Lopresti.

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