2010-11-04 / Front Page

Homicide Charges Filed In June Crash

Needmore man fell asleep at the wheel
By Chanin Rotz-Mountz STAFF WRITER

A Needmore man is currently facing charges of vehicular homicide dating back to a two-vehicle crash this summer that claimed the life of a 68-year-old southern Fulton County man.

Charges of homicide by vehicle, driving on roadways laned for traffic, reckless and careless driving and restraint systems were filed on Tuesday against Melvin Joseph Bowman Jr. of 224 Herb Road, Needmore, through Magisterial District Judge Carol Jean Johnson. As of press time, arraignment for Bowman, 27, had not been scheduled.

Charging documents prepared by investigating officer Pennsylvania State Police Trooper James S. Lupey indicate Bowman was travelling home from his place of employment at Redland Brick in Williamsport, Md., on June 10 when the collision occurred at 2:45 p.m. In an interview with police, Bowman said he began work at 5:30 a.m. and finished his shift at 2 p.m. He had reported having limited sleep the night before, the affidavit of probable cause states.

Bowman further told police he was only one mile from his Thompson Township home when he apparently “nodded off” behind the wheel of his 2000 Chevrolet Lumina, the affidavit stated. The car crossed the centerline of Thompson Road, with Bowman awaking only seconds before the head-on impact with a southbound 1990 Nissan truck operated by William Myrle Trail. Coincidentally, Trail was also in close proximity to his 5620 Thompson Road, Needmore, residence when the accident occurred.

The collision caused Bowman’s car to turn sideways and roll onto its roof.

Bowman sustained a fractured right wrist and a cut to his head and was treated and released from Washington County Hospital. He was not wearing a seat belt.

Meanwhile, Trail, who was also not using a seat belt and did not possess airbags in his vehicle, was pronounced dead at the scene of blunt force trauma by Fulton County Deputy Coroner Darrin Smith.

An eyewitness to the crash that occurred just south of the intersection of Frank Road told Lupey in an interview that Bowman’s car had been following her northbound since leaving Hancock, Md., at 2:35 p.m. The witness said the car would drift back forth out of its lane every few minutes. Speed of the vehicle varied as the car would sometimes be on her bumper or lagging one-quarter mile behind.

According to the affidavit, the witness said she saw Bowman’s car cross the centerline approximately five to six times before it crossed the centerline and collided head-on with the truck.

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