Driver, passenger injured

June 24, 2013

A Washington man and his passenger were seriously injured when they were ejected from a convertible that overturned on Route 519 in North Strabane Township just before midnight Friday.

Donald N. Schneider, 35, of 863 E. Wheeling St., and his passenger, Shawn R. Smiddle, 35, of 253 Vine St., Canonsburg, were flown from Canonsburg General Hospital to Pittsburgh hospitals. Schneider was listed in fair condition at Allegheny General Monday afternoon, while Smiddle was released from UPMC-Presbyterian after receiving treatment.

When police arrived on the accident scene in the 1600 block near Galati’s Nursery, an officer found Schneider lying on his stomach on the berm of the north side of the road with a head injury. Smiddle was found in a nearby field with a laceration to his head.

Police said Schneider was driving south at a speed above the posted 45 mph limit. There were 275 feet of skid marks as the BMW convertible he was driving crossed into the northbound lanes, hit an embankment and rolled, ejecting both men. Schneider was found 130 feet from where the car hit the embankment. Pieces of the vehicle were all over the road.

A passerby told police that she did not witness the accident but came upon it not long after it happened. She told investigators that Schneider was almost struck by a tractor-trailer as it passed.

Police said Smiddle told them that he and Schneider had just left a bar in Canonsburg and were both intoxicated. He also reportedly told police that he knew he should not have gotten into the vehicle with Schneider, and that as Schneider drove down Route 519, he “started to fly.” Smiddle said he did not remember anything of the crash except that he hit his head on the road.

Testing will be done to determine Schneider’s alcohol level, police said.

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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