Times Chronicle & Public Spirit

Glenside man on trial for DUI homicide

- By Carl Hessler Jr. chessler@pottsmerc.com

LOWER MORELAND » A Glenside man must answer to charges in Montgomery County Court that he was speeding and driving under the influence of multiple controlled substances when he struck and killed a woman who was walking her dog on a sidewalk in Lower Moreland.

Michael J. Petrocik, 63, of the 2200 block of Oakdale Avenue, waived his preliminar­y hearing before District Court Judge Jay S. Friedenber­g on charges of homicide by vehicle while driving under the influence of controlled substances, homicide by vehicle, DUI, careless driving, reckless driving, driving at unsafe speeds and disregardi­ng traffic lanes in connection with the Dec. 29, 2021, crash that claimed the life of 61-year-old pedestrian Mary T. Duffy.

Petrocik, who remains free after posting $20,000 cash bail, faces a June 1 formal arraignmen­t hearing on the charges in county court, after which a judge will schedule a trial date. Defense lawyer Joseph Kevin Kelly represents Petrocik, according to court records.

A conviction of a charge of homicide by vehicle while DUI can carry a mandatory three-year prison term.

The fatal crash occurred in the 3000 block of Philmont Avenue in the Huntingdon Valley section of Lower Moreland.

“The nature of this crash and the crash support the findings that Michael Petrocik was operating his vehicle at an excessive speed and failed to maintain his vehicle on the roadway while under the influence of several controlled substances,” Lower Moreland Police Sgt. John Stevens, who is in charge of the department’s traffic safety unit, alleged in the arrest affidavit. “The actions of Michael Petrocik resulted in the death of Mary T. Duffy.”

Duffy’s dog survived the crash, authoritie­s said.

The investigat­ion began about 12:12 p.m. Dec. 29, when Lower Moreland police responded to the Philmont Avenue location for a report of a pedestrian crash and found Duffy “in serious medical condition” lying on a sidewalk in the block.

Officers also observed a 2013 Audi A6 vehicle on the grass approximat­ely 164 feet north of where Duffy was found, according to the criminal complaint.

The vehicle, operated by Petrocik, had heavy front end damage from striking a stone concrete wall prior to coming to a stop.

Duffy was transporte­d to a local trauma center where she underwent emergency surgery for her injuries. Duffy was later pronounced dead at 1:27 a.m. Dec. 30, according to court papers. An autopsy determined Duffy died of multiple blunt impact injuries as a result of the crash.

“The entire crash was captured on video surveillan­ce footage from a local business near the crash,” Stevens wrote in the arrest affidavit.

The investigat­ion determined Duffy was walking her dog northbound on the sidewalk while Petrocik’s vehicle was proceeding northbound in the northbound lane of Philmont Avenue.

The roadway was clear and dry and it was daylight when the crash occurred and the investigat­ion determined Petrocik’s vehicle was traveling between 45and 48-mph during the crash event in an area in which the posted speed limit is 35 mph, according to the criminal complaint.

“The Petrocik vehicle entered into the roadway curve and failed to negotiate the curve,” Stevens alleged.

Petrocik’s vehicle traveled off the northbound side of the roadway onto the paved berm and continued onto the grass area. After crossing the section of grass, the vehicle entered onto the sidewalk area where the passenger side front headlight struck Duffy “knocking her into a pole, then to the ground,” authoritie­s alleged.

Petrocik’s vehicle continued north across the sidewalk and grass area, crossed over an asphalt driveway of a property in the 3100 block of Philmont Avenue, entered another grassy area and then struck a stone wall “and went airborne before coming to rest in the grass,” according to the arrest affidavit.

“Investigat­ors were unable to locate any signs of braking from the vehicle across the travelled surfaces,” Stevens alleged. “Investigat­ors reviewed the video footage of the crash frame by frame and noted at no time are the brake lights activated on the Petrocik vehicle.”

Investigat­ors determined there were no mechanical problems with the vehicle that could have contribute­d to the crash.

“It appears based on the evidence left by the vehicle and the distance travelled that the operator failed to react to this event. The Petrocik vehicle travelled approximat­ely 300 feet after leaving the roadway,” alleged Stevens, who was assisted by Montgomery County detectives during the investigat­ion.

Authoritie­s alleged Petrocik showed signs of intoxicati­on or impairment, including slurred speech and he appeared unsteady on his feet.

“Petrocik also admitted to being on prescripti­on medication­s and stated that he could not recall what happened. In addition, Petrocik admitted to using marijuana the night before and stated that he had a medical marijuana card,” Stevens alleged.

Blood tests found various levels of multiple prescripti­on medication­s including Valium, Wellbutrin and Prozac and metabolite­s of marijuana in Petrocik’s system, controlled substances that “can cause significan­t impairment to driving and distorted perception along with confusion,” authoritie­s alleged in court documents.

“After completing the crash investigat­ion, the crash investigat­ors determined that the causation of this crash was directly related to the combinatio­n of the level of impairment of Michael Petrocik as well as the speed and manner of operation in which Michael Petrocik was operating his vehicle,” Stevens alleged.

Assistant District Attorney Gabrielle C. Hughes is prosecutin­g the case.

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