Driver held for trial in motorcyclist's death

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A Shaler man today was ordered to stand trial on charges that he was drunk Aug. 9 when he lost control of his construction vehicle in Etna, causing a bizarre accident in which a motorcycle rider who worked as a Port Authority bus driver was killed.

Stephen M. Novacic, who was released early today on bond from the Allegheny County Jail, is charged with homicide by vehicle, homicide by vehicle while driving drunk, involuntary manslaughter and reckless driving.

Assistant District Attorney Lisa Pelligrini amended the complaint against Mr. Novacic, withdrawing one count of careless driving.

Allegheny County homicide Det. Timothy Langan testified today that the suspect admitted he had been drinking before the accident in which Alan J. Brocklebank, 59, of Penn Hills, was killed.

He had been on a job that morning in Washington County for Swank Associates, and he stopped for a sandwich and drinks at the Jockey Club before he returned to Etna around 3 p.m., Det. Langan testified.

Mr. Novacic admitted to having at least three drinks with vodka and Sprite before he left the pub and drove to Etna.

While on a bend on Washington Street in Etna, Mr. Novacic said he swerved to avoid striking another vehicle. The quick maneuver caused him to lose control, sending his truck onto the sidewalk, through a chain link fence and over a steep embankment before it struck a tree.

The tree was toppled onto Parker Street where Mr. Brocklebank had been riding his motorcycle. The tree struck Mr. Brocklebank, who was taken to Allegheny General Hospital and died at 5:32 p.m.

Detective Langan testified that Mr. Novacic's blood alcohol level after the accident was 0.27, more than three times the limit at which a motorist in Pennsylvania legally is considered too drunk to drive.

Defense attorney Robert Stewart argued after the hearing that no evidence was presented to show Mr. Novacic's drinking was the cause of the accident.

District Judge Dennis Joyce disagreed, and he ordered Mr. Novacic to appear Oct. 3 for formal arraignment in preparation for a trial.



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