The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

November 10, 2012

Owner of ATV gets probation in fatal crash

Sandra K Reabuck
sreabuck@tribdem.com

EBENSBURG — Declaring that actions have consequences, Judge Patrick Kiniry on Friday ordered a Johnstown man to serve 24 months of probation for permitting a 14-year-old boy to operate an ATV that crashed and killed a teenage passenger.

Scott Wyrwas was convicted in October in a nonjury trial before Kiniry on the misdemeanor offense of reckless endangerment and three summary offenses: Permitting an underage person to operate an ATV, not having the required insurance for the ATV and permitting an unlicensed driver to operate the vehicle.

Wyrwas, 32, formerly of McMillen Street in Johnstown and now of Second Street in East Conemaugh, became emotional during the sentencing Friday but did not speak about the incident. His attorney, David Raho, described him as a good person with no criminal record.

Wyrwas was charged by the East Taylor Township police in the Aug. 28, 2010, accident in which 14-year-old Kiersten Wagner of Richland Township  was killed. She was not wearing a helmet.

The driver, now 16, was injured in the accident, authorities said. He was wearing a helmet.

The accident took place just off of Rosedale Street, a dead-end street used by ATVā€ˆriders to access riding trials in the wooded area there.

Wyrwas and his family, along with about 20 other people, were attending a surprise birthday party of him.

At his trial, Wyrwas said that he knew the teenage driver was younger than 16 and did not have a safety certificate to ride on an ATV.

He also said that he was aware that the quad’s seat – although large enough for two – bore a symbol warning, “No passenger.”

Kiniry said that state sentencing guidelines called for punishment ranging from probation to one month in prison for the defendant.

He said that he took into consideration Wyrwas’ background, including his employment as a long-haul truck driver, in deciding to order the maximum probationary term.

He ordered the defendant to make sure that his two children – one, 14, and the other, 7, –  complete the state-required safety course for juveniles to operate an ATV. Wyrwas also was ordered to pay fines totaling $1,300 plus fees and court costs.

Assistant District Attorney Eric Hochfeld said that the victim’s mother – who had testified at the trial – had decided not to attend the sentencing.