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Homicide by Vehicle While DUI Alleged in E. Donegal Crash

A Bainbridge man who survived a head-on crash that killed a Mount Joy man is charged with criminal homicide and other offenses, accused of driving while having a blood-alcohol content several times above the legal limit.

In an unusual development, police allege he was tested for alcohol about half an hour before the crash in addition to after it.

Bryan L. Knowles, 37, of Chestnut Street between Second and Third streets in Bainbridge, was charged on Friday, Jan. 25, with the first-degree felony charges of criminal homicide and homicide by vehicle while DUI as well as several lesser offenses, court records show. The charges are over a crash at about 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 15, at Route 441 and Vinegar Ferry Road in East Donegal Township. Joseph G. Zito, 56, of Mount Joy was pronounced dead at the scene of the crash.

Susquehanna Regional Police Detective L. Jeffrey Sosnoski described the accusations against Knowles in a sworn statement filed in court. Sosnoski wrote in his sworn statement that when he was at the scene of the crash Knowles had what appeared to be severe injuries and “smelled of an alcoholic beverage and advised that he had drank 12 beers prior to driving his vehicle.” Sosnoski wrote that the investigation showed that Knowles had crossed the center line before hitting Zito’s vehicle head-on.

Sosnoski wrote that Knowles was taken to Lancaster General Hospital and that he got a warrant for Knowles’ medical records, which showed that Knowles had a blood alcohol content of .316 within two hours of driving. That is almost four times the legal limit for drivers, which is .080.

Sosnoski wrote in court records that further investigation showed that Knowles was the subject of a court order in which he was to be checked for alcohol before seeing his children. The sworn statement indicated that Knowles’ wife had tested him less than half an hour before the crash and his blood alcohol content registered at .423, which is more than five times the legal limit for driving. Sosnoski wrote that “the defendant then made the decision to leave the house, knowing he was not to leave due to his intoxication status and drove his vehicle and crashed into (Zito), causing his death.”

On Wednesday, Jan. 23, Knowles was interviewed by police and gave a statement saying that he was drinking alcohol before driving, Sosnoski wrote in court records.

Court records did not indicate a lawyer representing Knowles.

Correction: An earlier version of this article misspelled Sosnoski’s name.

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