CLEARFIELD – A Weedville man is going to state prison for aggravated assault while driving under the influence.
Keith Andrew Romanic, 55, 3682 Gardner Hill Rd., Weedville, pleaded guilty to two counts of aggravated assault by vehicle while DUI, DUI, three counts of recklessly endangering another person and summaries. He was sentenced by President Judge Fredric J. Ammerman to a total of 46 months to 11 years in state prison. He was fined $748 plus costs and he must pay restitution of more than $17,900.
The charges stem from an incident in Sandy Township on Jan. 25, 2013 during snowy conditions. The driver of the other vehicle was transported to Altoona Hospital and then taken by life flight to Pittsburgh for emergency surgery. As a result of the accident, the driver was paralyzed, his child suffered a broken jaw and his wife received moderate injuries.
Ammerman noted that he gave Romanic a sentence in the aggregated range because one of the victims is now a quadriplegic. He also recalled that in the affidavit of probable cause, police noticed that Romanic was more concerned about the officers confiscating his beer than in the family he had hurt.
Ammerman commented that “no matter what we do, no one will be satisfied,” adding the victims probably want Romanic to serve a life sentence.
District Attorney William A. Shaw Jr. stated that this type of case is difficult because everyone is sorry.
Prior to sentencing, two people spoke on Romanic’s behalf painting a picture of him as a hardworking, loving father, devoted son and caring person who makes a habit of helping others.
His attorney, Jarett Smith, also noted that several others had written letters to Ammerman in support of Romanic. He stated that Romanic “feels full responsibility for what happened.” He described his client as “very remorseful” and added that no matter what sentence he received Romanic’s life sentence had already begun.
Romanic said he never wanted to hurt anyone and thinks almost constantly about the victim and how he is doing.
Ammerman read from a letter written by one of the victims, Kylie Hamilton, who was not able to be in court. She wrote that the accident changed her family’s life forever. Her daughter suffered a fractured jaw and her husband is now a quadriplegic who suffers constant spasms and pain. She was seven months pregnant at the time of the accident and spent months in the hospital until the baby was born.
Their daughter still has nightmares and doesn’t understand why her daddy is paralyzed.
“The worst is him not being able to play with the girls,” she wrote. She said it is difficult to take care of her husband and daughters and every time she closes her eyes she relives the accident.
According to the affidavit, police were called to a vehicle accident at the intersection of state Route 255 and Hungry Hollow Road. At the time of the accident, it was snowing and the road conditions were considered horrible. When police arrived, a silver vehicle was sticking out into the traffic lane while emergency personnel worked to free one of the victims.
The vehicle was severely damaged and the whole rear end where a child was sitting had collapsed. A green pick-up truck with minor front end damage was in the parking lot of a nearby business.
A passenger in the first vehicle who was waiting in an ambulance told police they were stopped on SR 255 to make a turn onto Hungry Hollow Road. The vehicle was getting ready to turn when they were struck with full force, turning the car around and slamming them against a guiderail.
Police then made contact with the driver of the green truck who was identified as Romanic. As soon as he started to talk, the officer could smell alcohol on him. When asked if he was alright, he said he was fine.
He said he was going faster than the other car and that was why he hit them. He was asked how fast he was going to which he replied “probably 45 or so.” When the officer asked if he could have been going faster, he said “yes, it’s possible.” After more questions, he admitted he didn’t know how fast he was going. He also admitted to drinking two beers.
As Romanic got into his vehicle to get his registration and information, the officer could see a can of beer on the front passenger floor and behind the driver’s seat there was an open case of beer with a couple cans missing. Romanic was given field sobriety tests, which he failed.
He was taken into custody and transported to DuBois Regional Medical Center for a blood test. The results showed his blood alcohol content to be 0.133 percent. The legal level of intoxication in Pennsylvania is 0.08 percent.