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Lehighton man charged with involuntary manslaugter

Published May 28. 2014 04:07PM

 A Lehighton man has been charged with involuntary manslaughter, homicide by vehicle and other offenses in the death of a 47-year-old woman who was jogging in Washington Township, Lehigh County, when she was struck by the man's vehicle.

Donald John Vito, 54, of 357 N. Fifth St., Lehighton, is charged with involuntary manslaughter, a first-degree misdemeanor; homicide by vehicle, a third-degree felony; recklessly endangering another person, a misdemeanor of the second degree; and summary offenses of leaving his lane of travel, following too closely, driving at an unsafe speed, and careless and reckless driving.

Vito turned himself in on May 28 and was arraigned by Magisterial District Judge Michael Faulkner at the Lehigh County Central Booking Center.  He was committed to Lehigh County Prison after bail was set at $100,000.

According to an affidavit of probable cause filed by Pennsylvania State Police:

At about 11:45 a.m. on March 12, members of the Pennsylvania State Police, Troop M, Bethlehem Patrol Unit responded to the scene of a collision on Route 873 near Phillips Road in Washington Township.  

Vito was traveling south on Route 873 when he crossed over the center double yellow lines and into the northbound lane. The vehicle then crossed the northbound lane's fog line, struck Angela Pope of North Whitehall Township and hit a utility pole.  Pope was jogging south on the northbound shoulder of Route 873.

A Lehigh County deputy coroner pronounced Pope dead at the scene.

An autopsy determined that Pope died of multiple blunt force trauma resulting from the collision.

Another motorist told state police that she was traveling north on Route 873 and passed Pope. The motorist said she saw Vito's vehicle traveling south and saw it cross over the double yellow lines and into the northbound lane. The motorist had to swerve to the right to avoid contact with Vito's vehicle. The motorist saw Vito's vehicle strike the victim from behind as she was jogging.

The motorist told state police that Vito's vehicle was traveling at a high rate of speed.

Another motorist who was traveling behind Vito saw the vehicle swerving and driving at a high rate of speed.  The motorist also said that Vito's vehicle was following another vehicle too closely.  The motorist said he saw Vito's vehicle enter the northbound lane in what he thought was an attempt to pass the other vehicle.

The motorist saw Vito's vehicle enter the northbound lane and drive to the shoulder where it struck the victim.

A passenger in that motorist's vehicle said he saw Vito's vehicle weaving across both lanes of Route 873 and traveling into oncoming traffic.
State police said that at the point where Vito left the southbound lane, the road was curved and uphill.


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