BLAIRSVILLE (KDKA) — In courtrooms all over the country, people come looking for justice.
For one Indiana County family it took six years, but at long last, they say, the system worked.
On a July morning in 2005 in a construction zone on Route 119 near Blairsville, a young life was cut short.
Sean Pearce, 29, handsome and well-loved by his family was struck as he rode his bicycle. A year later, 21-year-old Gregory Wisneski, Jr. was arrested for running Pearce over.
Charges were dropped after it was determined that Pearce could have crashed into a construction barrel or may have been hit by more than one vehicle. It could not be proved which driver was responsible for his death.
“I was very angry and sad all the time and I was my brother’s voice,” Heather Kunkle, the victim’s sister, said.
Sean’s big sister and their mom took their anguish from one courtroom to the next. Finally, Sean’s voice was heard loud and clear when the Pennsylvania Supreme court ruled in his favor.
“All I could scream was, ‘Oh my god! We won! We won!’” Kunkle said.
The decision says, in part, that the terms “injury” and “damage” are synonymous.
Indiana County District Attorney Tom Bianco’s office argued it before the high court.
“There can be injury or damage to a person that has died.”
The work is far from over.
“And my brother has the opportunity of having his day in court,” Kunkle added.
The precedent-setting decision means that Gregory Wisneski will stand trial on a felony charge for, “failing to stop and render aid in an accident that causes injury or death.”
It’s not exactly clear when a new trial will start, but district attorneys in other states with similar cases have been following what our Supreme Court ruled. The impact may be far reaching.