Man charged with homicide in biker’s death in Lancaster Township

May 15, 2019 Cranberry Local News

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Charges have been filed stemming from this August accident in Lancaster Township.

LANCASTER TWP — Police believe a man was distracted by a social media app on his phone when he struck and killed a motorcyclist on Route 19 last summer.

Police charged Nicholas Abbott, 24, of Slippery Rock on Monday with homicide by vehicle, involuntary manslaughter, using text-based communications, careless driving, following too closely and reckless driving.

The charges stem from an Aug. 23 accident involving a car and a motorcycle during which the motorcyclist was left injured and unconscious on the side of the road.

Police arrived on the scene and found the man lying on the shoulder of Route 19, with two other people giving him CPR.

EMS arrived to tend to the motorcyclist, and officers interviewed the driver of the car that hit him.

Abbott allegedly told officers that he had tried to pass the motorcyclist on the other side of the yellow line, but the man had swerved into Abbot's path at the last minute. Abbott said he tried to swerve out of the way, but it was too late.

He said he was only using his phone for music and agreed to give it to officers when asked.

In January, officers received the computer forensics of Abbott's phone, the details of which were included in the criminal complaint filed Monday.

Analysis by the state police Bureau of Criminal Investigation Computer Crime Unit found that the phone was in use, with Instagram open and using data from 1:22 to 1:25 p.m., the time of the crash.

A state police reconstruction team also concluded its report, showing that neither Abbott nor the motorcyclist had made any “drastic movements” before the crash, contradicting Abbott's account.

The team also found no mechanical failures in either vehicles and no visual obstacles that might have obstructed Abbott's view, the complaint states. He was driving at 55 to 60 mph at the time of the crash, according to the report.

As of Monday, Abbott had not been arrested. Future hearing dates are pending.

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Caleb Harshberger

Caleb Harshberger

Caleb Harshberger is a reporter covering Adams, Forward and Middlesex Townships and Evans City, Callery and Valencia Boroughs. He started as an intern with the Butler Eagle in Jan. 2017 and was hired as a staff writer in June of that year. Harshberger earned a degree in philosophy at Grove City College in 2017 and is originally from Syracuse, N.Y.