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February 7, 2013

Driver pleads to fatal wreck

EBENSBURG — A Northern Cambria man charged in a wreck that killed an Alverda couple more than two years ago avoided a trial when he pleaded guilty to a number of charges Thursday.

Michael Sherwood, 42, of the 100 block of Melrose Place, entered a guilty plea to charges of homicide by vehicle, a third-degree felony, and two second-degreee felonies, homicide by ve­hicle while under the influence of alcohol or a controlled sub­stance, and aggravated assault by vehicle while under the influence.

Cambria County Judge Norman Krumenacker told Sherwood that by entering the guilty plea he likely will serve five to 12 years in state prison. A presentence investigation has been ordered, and Sherwood is scheduled to be sentenced March 5.

Sherwood was accused of be­ing incapable of safe driving while under the influence of meth­a­done and other prescription drugs when his pickup truck struck a oncoming car on Sept. 3, 2010. The collision occurred on a section of Route  271 known as Nicktown Hill in Northern Cambria.

Authorities alleged that Sherwood’s truck crossed the center line and hit the car head-on.

A passenger in the car, 69-year-old Lois May Davis, was pronounced dead at the scene. Her husband, Richard T. Davis, 76, died two weeks later at Memorial Medical Center in Johns­town. Both died of injuries due to blunt force trauma from the wreck.

A second passenger in the Davis vehicle, Orlando Veltre, also of Alverda, was injured.

Veltre testified Thursday that he has ongoing problems stemming from the injuries he sustained, but he did not object to the plea agreement.

The Davis’ daughters, Kimberly and Mary Davis, also told Krumenacker they approved of the deal and would make victim impact statements at the time Sherwood is sentenced.

Assistant District Attorney Gary Jubas said the case has been an emotional one.

The guilty pleas mean the Davis’ children don’t have to sit in a courtroom and listen to an autopsy report on how their parents died, he said.

“We looked at the sentencing guideline and decided this is something that we believe will give them some finality,” Jubas said.

Sherwood suffered a broken neck in the wreck.

Authorities said that on the day of the crash, Sherwood had received a methadone treatment around 8 a.m. at Alliance Medical Center in Richland Township.

The wreck happened around 11 a.m.

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