Homicide by Vehicle, DUI Charges Filed Against Driver in Fatal Gas Station Crash

| July 6, 2018

INDIANA CO., Pa. (EYT) – The driver of a vehicle that crashed into the fuel pump of an Indiana County gas station on Thursday afternoon, causing the death of an employee, has been charged with homicide by vehicle while driving under the influence.

(Photo courtesy Facebook/Todd Peace.)

Court documents indicate that on July 6, Indiana-based State Police filed criminal charges against 33-year-old James Eugene Brown, of Rossiter.

Brown was arraigned at 8:00 a.m. on Friday, July 6, in Magisterial District Judge Susanne V. Steffee’s office on the following charges:

  • Homicide By Vehicle While Driving Under The Influence, Felony 2
  • Aggravated Assault By Vehicle While DUI, Felony 2 (two counts)
  • Homicide By Vehicle, Felony 3
  • Accident Involving Death/Injury-Not Properly Licensed, Felony 3 (two counts)
  • DUI: General Impairment/Incapable of Driving Safely – 1st Offense, Misdemeanor
  • DUI: Controlled Substance – Impaired Ability – 1st Offense
  • Driving Without A License, Summary
  • Driving While Operator Privilege Suspended Or Revoked, Summary
  • Drivers License Suspended/Revoked Pursuant to Sec. 3802/1547B1, Summary
  • Driving While BAC .02 or Greater While License Suspended, Summary
  • Fail To Keep Right, Summary
  • Careless Driving, Summary
  • Reckless Driving, Summary
  • Give False Information, Summary
  • Failure to use safety belt – driver and vehicle occupant, Summary

Unable to post $250,000.00 cash bail, he was lodged in the Indiana County Jail.

A preliminary hearing is scheduled for 2:45 p.m. on Tuesday, July 17, with Judge Steffee presiding.

Details of the case:

According to a criminal complaint, around 1:30 p.m. on Thursday, July 5, Indiana County 9-1-1 received a call for a motor vehicle crash at the intersection of State Route 119 and State Route 85 involving Pikel’s Gas Station in Rayne Township, Indiana County.

Trooper Shrum, of the Indiana-based State Police, was assigned to the investigation. As he was en route to the scene, he was alerted of the subsequent fire at the structure, causing the death of its occupant, an employee of the gas station.

Upon his arrival at the scene, he viewed the burned frame of a 2003 Subaru Outback against the gas station structure as several firemen attempted to extinguish the remaining flames.

Trooper Shurm was informed a deceased female was found inside the structure.

Indiana County Coroner Jerry Overman identified the woman as 52-year-old Melissa Ann Myers, of Commodore, an employee of the gas station. The cause of death has not yet been determined.

A fire marshal unit is investigating the exact cause of the blaze.

Further investigation revealed the vehicle had been occupied by two males at the time of the crash. Both men escaped the vehicle before it burst into flames. One of the men James Eugene Brown remained at the scene while the other fled on foot heading north along State Route 119.

Brown was identified as the driver of the vehicle by a known witness to the crash.

According to the complaint, when Trooper Shrum made contact with Brown, he initially denied being the driver and said the vehicle’s other occupant, 32-year-old Michael White of Punxsutawney, was the driver.

During this time, Trooper Shrum noted that Brown displayed signs of impairment including glassy, bloodshot eyes.

The complaint states that Brown admitted he smoked marijuana earlier in the day.

Brown was then taken into custody and was transported to Indiana Medical Center for both medical treatment and a blood test.

The Punxsutawney Borough Police Department located White at a residence in Punxsutawney Borough and took him into custody. White was found to have suffered minor injuries and was treated and released from Punxsutawney Hospital.

White was later confirmed by troopers to be the sole passenger of the vehicle. He was then released from police custody; no charges have been filed against White.

Indiana-based State Police are asking anyone who witnessed the crash or who has information pertaining to the incident to call the barracks at 724-357-1960.

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