The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Latest News

January 23, 2014

DA: No charges in bus crash

INDIANA — Criminal charges won’t be filed in a bus crash that claimed two lives last fall, Indiana County’s district attorney said Wednesday.

While the Nanty Glo man behind the wheel of the small SeniorLIFE bus caused the crash by running a red light, there was no sign of further recklessness to warrant criminal action – and it’s likely the driver never saw the red light, Indiana County District Attorney Patrick Dougherty said.

“When we look at criminal charges in cases like this one, such as assault or homicide by vehicle, we have to prove there was gross negligence by the actor – a higher-than-ordinary amount of negligence,”  Dougherty said, citing speeding or driving impaired by drugs or alcohol as typical examples. “That wasn’t the case here.”

Police said the Sept. 4 accident occurred in White Township on Ben Franklin Road’s Shelly Drive intersection. The bus, driven by Michael Smith, 20, of Nanty Glo, struck a sedan crossing its path under a green light, Dougherty said.

The impact ejected one passenger, Sandra Livingston, 70, of Homer City, causing blunt force trauma that claimed her life in a Pittsburgh hospital less than three hours later, the Allegheny County Medical Examiner’s Office said at the time.

A 79-year-old Shelocta, Indiana County, woman also died two weeks later of injuries sustained in the crash. Indiana County Chief Deputy Coroner Jeffrey Overman said the woman, Cathryn Reeger, was a passenger on the bus and that she died at home Sept. 20.

The car’s driver, Frank Fazio Jr., 77, was also among those injured but was able to escape major injury, police said at the time.

A state police accident reconstruction team spent months investigating the crash, examining both vehicles involved and crash scene evidence among other information to determine what happened on the road, Dougherty said.

Neither the SeniorLIFE bus nor the sedan it struck had mechanical issues that would have been factors in the accident, Dougherty added.

“(Smith) just didn’t see the light,” Dougherty said. “It appears (Smith) didn’t apply the brakes until he hit the car.”

Attempts to reach a SeniorLIFE spokesman for comment were unsuccessful Wednesday and Thursday.

Summary vehicle code citations – traffic tickets – were filed this month against Smith for careless driving and failure to obey traffic control devices, online court records show.

David Hurst is a reporter with The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him at

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Latest News
  • 5 things to know for today in Pennsylvania news

    A look at late-breaking news, coming events and stories that will be talked about in Pennsylvania on Monday:

    April 21, 2014

  • Flower2 Flowers' color doesn't have to fade

    Those pots of bright yellow daffodils, Easter lilies and hyacinths gracing the home this weekend do not have to end up in the trash bin when the blooms start to fade.

    April 20, 2014 2 Photos

  • Refinancing could lower Richland School District's debt by $2.2M

    When Richland School District borrowed funds for its high school project a decade ago, board members circled “2014” on their calendars as a likely first option to refinance the debt.

    April 20, 2014

  • Pipeline to carry shale byproducts

    An 8-inch transmission line crossing Pennsylvania, including four municipalities in Cambria County, is being repurposed to carry some of the by-products from Marcellus and Utica shale production.

    April 20, 2014

  • Judge Creany, Timothy Vets courts gain support

    Signs of success are mostly anecdotal in Pennsylvania’s special courts for veterans, but judicial officials and lawmakers are so convinced of the program, they’re lobbying to expand it.

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • pow21 Person of the Week: ‘I wanted to help’: Teen uses birthday to show love for children, animals

    Anastasia Machik’s love for children and animals inspired her to forgo her birthday gifts for the sake of the two.

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Students taking steps to call attention to child abuse

    An upcoming community walk will help raise awareness of child abuse.

    April 20, 2014

  • In brief: PennDOT reports weekly work schedule

    April 20, 2014

  • Halfway house inmates can ease back into society

    Prison life can be a time warp.
    When inmates are locked away – for months, years, decades – society moves forward: Technology evolves, major events occur, pop culture changes. From a personal perspective, families and friends live their lives: weddings, funerals, graduations, births, retirements. All the while, criminals bide their time, existing in a regimented world of cement walls and metal bars.
    Almost all of them eventually rejoin society, though.

    April 19, 2014

  • Crime board took aim at house

    Johnstown’s unemployment rate is around 8 percent.
    One-third of the city’s population lives in poverty.
    Burglaries and assaults significantly increased between 2010 and 2012. There is a thriving illegal trade in heroin and prescription drugs.
    Given those conditions, it can be challenging for Johnstown Community Corrections Center residents to find jobs when living in the facility or to avoid falling back into a criminal lifestyle upon their release.

    April 19, 2014


Would you like to see the Johnstown Community Corrections Center remain open after its lease runs out on Oct. 11, 2015?

I'm not sure
     View Results
Order Photos

Photo Slideshow

House Ads