Burgettstown man to stand trial in fatal Hanover crash

May 7, 2014
Stanley Reisdorf, charged with homicide by vehicle, leaves Washington County Courthouse after a preliminary hearing Wednesday. Reisdorf was charged in connection with a March 2013 on Route 18 in Hanover Township that killed his girlfriend, Debra L. Strong, and severely injured another man. - Katie Roupe/Observer-Reporter Order a Print

A Burgettstown man was ordered to stand trial in connection with a crash in Hanover Township more than a year ago that killed his girlfriend and severely injured a Prosperity man.

Stanley J. Reisdorf, 45, of 1515 Main St., was ordered held for court on charges including homicide by vehicle and aggravated assault by vehicle Wednesday by District Judge Curtis Thompson following a preliminary hearing in Central Court.

Killed in the March 7, 2013, crash was Debra Strong, 55, of Burgettstown. She was pronounced dead at the scene of head and other injuries. Eric Raineri, 48, of Prosperity, who was a passenger in the other vehicle, was flown to UPMC-Presbyterian hospital in Pittsburgh for treatment of head and leg injuries. He was not at the hearing because he was undergoing another surgery for those injuries.

Reisdorf’s vehicle was passing another vehicle in no-passing zone on Route 18 at Log Cabin Road in Hanover Township when he collided head-on with a pickup truck driven by Curtis Warner, 27, of Hickory.

Cpl. John Weaver, a state police accident reconstruction specialist, testified that the Chevrolet Cobalt driven by Reisdorf was going north in the southbound lane when it collided with a pickup truck.

“The crash occurred completely in the southbound lane,” Weaver said. “Based on the analysis, it appears Warner did break heavily and tried to steer to avoid the collision. But at that point, the collision was unavoidable.”

Weaver estimated that Reisdorf was driving between 79 and 82 mph at impact while Warner was going about 10 mph. He said the speed limit in that area is 50 mph.

Defense attorney Guiseppe Rosselli questioned Weaver about the steering system in the car. Weaver said he was unable to test the power steering because of the damage but said it appears the steering was functioning at the time of the crash.

Trooper Matthew Hudak, who filed the charges against Reisdorf, testified that he talked with the Burgettstown man at UPMC-Presbyterian, the day after the crash. Reisdorf told the trooper he did not see the oncoming truck when he went to pass.

“When I asked him why he passed, his answer was, ‘Just because,’” Hudak stated.

Warner testified that he and Raineri were in their work truck heading back to the Rock Water Energy Solutions office when he saw the oncoming car.

“I tried to stop,” Warner estimating it was just 5 or 6 seconds from the time he saw the oncoming car until the crash.

Rosselli attempted to have one count of aggravated assault by vehicle dismissed after Rodney Rohrer, operations manager for Ambulance and Chair Service, read a report describing Raineri’s injuries as moderate.

District Attorney Eugene Vittone offered to get Raineri’s attorney on the telephone to provide information on the extent of his injuries. Vittone also noted Raineri was undergoing more surgery Wednesday.

One count of aggravated assault by motor vehicle was withdrawn by Vittone prior to the start of the hearing. Reisdorf was also ordered held on charges of driving on the wrong side of the road, failure to drive at a safe speed, careless driving and reckless driving. He is free on $50,000 unsecured bond.

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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