Man charged in 2011 fatal crash

November 18, 2012

A West Virginia man was arraigned last week on charges filed by state police in connection with a 2011 fatal crash on Interstate 79, near the south junction with Interstate 70, South Strabane Township.

John W. Cruse II, 26, of Westover, W.Va., was charged with homicide by vehicle, failure to drive at a safe speed, careless driving and reckless driving in the March 4, 2011, crash that killed 49-year-old Cynthia A. Bittengle of St. Clairsville, Ohio.

Both Bittengle and Cruse were traveling north in the left, northbound lane of I-79. Cruse reportedly failed to see she had slowed for traffic. His vehicle struck her sport-utility vehicle in the right rear.

The impact caused her SUV to travel sideways through the grassy median to the southbound lanes of the interstate. State police said her SUV barrel-rolled across both southbound lanes. Bittengle, who police said was not wearing a seat belt, was ejected while the vehicle was rolling.

Bittengle was pronounced dead at the scene of multiple injuries. Cruse was not hurt in the crash that closed both southbound lanes of the highway for several hours.

Cruse was arraigned Wednesday before District Judge Robert Redlinger and released on $100,000 unsecured bond. A preliminary hearing will be held in Central Court at a later date.

Kathie O. Warco has covered the police beat and transportation for the Observer-Reporter for more than 25 years. She graduated from Duquesne University with a degree in journalism.

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