U92 News, sponsored by IRMC at Chestnut Ridge

Crash killed defendant's friend in May, 2011


An Indiana County man testified yesterday that his friend who died in a crash last year had gotten angry and shoved him, causing his vehicle to leave the road and strike a tree.


56-year-old CliffordPorterfield of Route 286, Saltsburg is being tried for homicide by vehicle while under the influence in the death of 43-year-old Ronald Puzak, who had a Saltsburg address but lived in Salem Township, Westmoreland County.  Porterfield was driving Puzak home after the two had been drinking at a bar through the night on May 13th of last year. 


Porterfield told Judge John Blahovec, who is presiding over the non-jury trial, that he was angry with Puzak for trying to quit his job and as they rounded a curve on Route 981 in Loyalhanna Township, Puzak pushed him and they went off the road.  He said he did not tell police of the shove because he feared it would affect an insurance claim, but if he had known his friend was dead, he would have told the truth.


Portefield also told the judge he was not drunk, even though his blood-alcohol level measured .151 percent on a breathalyzer, almost twice the legal limit.  His attorney contends the machine malfunctioned, but the prosecution said it was working properly, and Porterfield still measured .118 percent four hours later in a blood test.


Blahovec will rule on the case within five days.

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