Franklin man found guilty of homicide by vehicle

From staff reports

A Franklin man has been convicted of homicide by vehicle and DUI in Venango County Court.

Raymond Herold, 34, was found guilty this week following a two-day trial of a felony count of homicide by vehicle while DUI, two misdemeanor counts of DUI and four summary counts involving traffic violations.

He was found not guilty of a felony count of homicide by vehicle.

The charges stem from a June 5, 2016, crash on Sugarcreek Drive in Sugarcreek Borough that killed Christina Hoover, 34, of Franklin.

Franklin state police said Herold had undercompensated for a right curve, and the vehicle left the roadway and struck a utility pole with the driver’s side door before flipping over onto its roof.

Hoover was partially ejected through the vehicle’s sun roof and sustained major injuries that resulted in her death at the scene, said police.

After the crash, Herold was flown to UPMC Presbyterian in Pittsburgh for treatment of injuries sustained in the crash.

Franklin state police traveled to the hospital on June 6 to interview Herold about the incident. Herold related that he met Hoover at The Office bar in Franklin around 9:30 p.m. that night.

Herold said the pair went to leave together around 11:30 p.m., and Hoover’s friend asked Herold not to allow Hoover to drive since she had been drinking, police said.

Hoover had said she was able to drive, said Herold, and the two left Franklin headed toward Sugarcreek Borough on Route 322.

Herold said the roads had been wet from rain, and he could only recall waking up after the crash. He said he tried to lift the vehicle off of Hoover, police said.

Following the interview, police obtained Herold’s blood tests from the night of the accident. The results indicated a blood alcohol content level of .097 percent.

Police conducted a follow-up interview with Herold on June 15, in which he again said Hoover had been driving the vehicle. Herold said the vehicle had made no stops along the way and he said he had been buzzed but not intoxicated, police said.

Police interviewed three witnesses who had been at the bar the night of the accident. Each related either seeing Herold get into the driver’s side of the vehicle, or Hoover saying that she wasn’t driving, police said.

A witness interviewed in May 2017 said he had left the bar and was driving in front of Herold and Hoover. The man said he was at the scene of the crash and heard Herold state that he had killed someone, police said.

Herold was remanded to Venango County jail on $50,000 bail.

Sentencing has been scheduled for Dec. 10 at the Venango County Courthouse.