Former Pittsburgh officer says he was drunk in fatal cycle crash

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Former Pittsburgh police Officer Adam Lewis drank about four beers over two hours before he got onto his motorcycle and drove from North Huntingdon to the South Side to meet his fiancee and her friends, who were ending a bachelorette party as the bars closed.

He didn't think when he met the women and agreed to let them follow him home that he was drunk but realizes now that he was, according to testimony he provided Tuesday.

Mr. Lewis, 31, who has since been fired from the force, faces charges of homicide by vehicle, involuntary manslaughter, driving under the influence and other crimes in the Sept. 26, 2010 crash that killed Jessica Lojak, 28, of Fawn.

Closing arguments in the case before Common Pleas Judge Jeffrey A. Manning are scheduled to begin today.

Mr. Lewis testified that he went that night to celebrate a friend's birthday at the Rivertowne Pub & Grille in North Huntingdon, where he drank about four beers.

While he was there, he received a call from Michele Zaccaria, 34, who was the designated driver at his fiancee's bachelorette party. She asked to meet him at Charlie Murdoch's in the South Side so she could follow him back to the couple's home because she was unfamiliar with that part of the city.

He met the women as the bar was closing and said Ms. Lojak asked if she could ride on his motorcycle.

"At that point in time, did you realize you were intoxicated?" assistant district attorney Lisa Carey asked.

"Absolutely not," Mr. Lewis replied.

Mr. Lewis testified that he was driving about 30 or 35 mph -- though police and another expert witness said it could easily have been faster -- on Buttermilk Hollow Road when he leaned to the right and, "I felt Jessica lean up to the left ... and I lost control. I couldn't turn the motorcycle enough to keep it in my lane."

The prosecutors provided several witnesses to testify that Ms. Lojak had previous experience riding motorcycles and insinuate that she likely would have known how to make a proper turn, although defense attorney William Difenderfer pointed out that her blood-alcohol content at the time of the crash was 0.131. The legal limit for driving in Pennsylvania is 0.08.

Ms. Carey referenced earlier testimony placing Mr. Lewis' blood-alcohol content at 0.111 at the time of the crash.

"So you know now you were intoxicated?" she asked Mr. Lewis.

"Yes, Ma'am."

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Liz Navratil:, 412-263-1438 or on Twitter @LizNavratil. First Published October 1, 2013 12:45 AM


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