HUNTINGDON COUNTY, Pa. (WTAJ) — A McVeytown man is facing charges after state police said he drove under the influence and was involved in a serious accident.
Police have charged Kenneth Matthews, 69, with felony aggravated assault by vehicle while DUI for allegedly driving while on pain medication before an accident happened.
Pennsylvania State Police (PSP) out of Huntingdon County said they responded, along with the Mount Union Fire Chief, to the accident on East Shirley Street at its intersection with North Division Street on July 8 just after noon.
When troopers arrived, they saw a black Harley Davidson lying on its right side, facing south, in the middle of the road, just east of the intersection on East Shirley Street. According to the criminal complaint, officers spoke with the fire chief, who said the driver of the motorcycle had just been transported by Mount Union EMS to a staging area to be flown to UPMC Altoona for his injuries.
The fire chief also told troopers that when he arrived, he saw the motorcycle driver lying face down and unresponsive on the road.
Around 12:30 p.m., officers spoke with one of the witnesses, who told police that the truck, later identified as a Ford F-150 belonging to Matthews, was on East Shirley Street, turning left (south) onto State Route 747 when the crash happened. The witness told officers that the truck failed to yield to the motorcyclist who was continuing through East Shirley Street and its intersection with North Division Street, according to the police report.
State police spoke with two other witnesses that corroborated their stories with the first witness.
Troopers said at this time Matthews approached the witness and allegedly confronted him about “running his mouth,” police noted in the affidavit. PSP asked Matthews to walk away and that they would speak with him soon.
While interviewing Matthews, he told police that he was stopped at a traffic light on East Shirley Street and when the light turned green, Matthews attempted to make a left-handed turn onto State Route 747 when his vehicle was hit, according to the criminal complaint. Matthews allegedly told police that he did not see the motorcycle as he was making the turn.
PSP noted in the complaint that while interviewing Matthews, they observed him to have constricted pupils. Matthews allegedly admitted to troopers that he took prescription medication, specifically Tramadol, at around 5 a.m. that day.
According to Medline Plus, Tramadol is an opiate (narcotic) that changes the way the brain and nervous system respond to pain. It is typically prescribed to relieve moderate to moderately serve pain in adults and children. The user is told not to drive a car or operate machinery until the user knows how the medication affects them.
Troopers asked Matthews to participate in a standard field sobriety test, to which he agreed. Following the test, Matthews was taken back to PSP Huntingdon where he underwent a Drug Recognition Evaluation (DRE).
Officers then deemed Matthews to be under the influence of a controlled substance, according to the police report. He was then arrested and taken to Penn Highlands Hospital where he agreed to a blood draw.
Two days later, troopers spoke with the driver of the motorcycle for details regarding the crash. The motorcyclist told PSP he saw the traffic light turned green, proceeded through the intersection and then did not remember anything after that, according to the affidavit. Troopers said the motorcyclist suffered a fractured collar bone and a severe brain bleed that resulted in an emergency operation at UPMC Altoona.
On Aug. 1, PSP received the toxicology report showing that Matthews had 170 ng/mL of Tramadol in his system.
Matthews is currently out on $150,000 unsecured bail. In addition to the felony aggravated assault charge, he’s facing DUI while on a controlled substance, careless driving – serious bodily injury, reckless driving, vehicle turning left and improper turn at a green light.
A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Aug 23.