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No criminal charges to be filed in Vandergrift traffic incident

posted Nov 18, 2016, 9:42 PM by Joseph Gray


An injured Vandergrift Borough worker is taken to an ambulance after being struck by a car in the parking lot of Kochka and Son Towing gas station in Vandergrift on Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2016.
An injured Vandergrift Borough worker is taken to an ambulance after being struck by a car in the parking lot of Kochka and Son Towing gas station in Vandergrift on Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2016.
Photo by Eric Felack | Tribune-Review
Chuck Biedka
By Chuck Biedka | Friday, Oct. 14, 2016, 12:00 p.m.
          

State police said no one will be criminally charged regarding a traffic accident last month in which two men were hit by an out-of-control car at a Vandergrift gas station, prompting a police officer to shoot at the car.

One of the men who was hit and thrown into the air at Kochka's Citgo was on-duty Vandergrift police Officer Richard Joseph Gray.

Police said Gray and borough employee Glenn Rupert, 49, were hit Sept. 14 by a car driven by Charles Pencak, 67. All three live in Vandergrift.

Gray and Rupert were treated and released at area hospitals on the day of the mishap. Pencak wasn't treated.

After being struck just before 9 a.m., Gray quickly collected himself and fired his service pistol twice at the car. He said it didn't appear to be stopping in the parking lot of the gas station and convenience store.

Pencak, who has a prosthetic leg, drives a car equipped with a modified gas pedal. He told investigators he couldn't get the vehicle to stop.

State police Trooper Jason Morgan told the Valley News Dispatch on Thursday that Pencak's foot was stuck under the brake pedal.

Pencak's Chevrolet Impala was inspected by state police mechanics and the company that installed the special gas pedal.

Morgan said the driver was in error, but there was “no malicious intent.”

The car came to a stop in the lot almost into Sherman Avenue.

State police interviewed the three men and numerous witnesses and investigated whether the gunshots should have been fired.

“It was a justified shooting,” Morgan said.

“There are no charges for anybody,” he said.

Pencak said he was relieved that no one was seriously injured but said he “can't talk about” the incident.

Rupert wasn't immediately available Thursday.

Gray said he has talked with state police and has been instructed by his attorney not to comment.

“This was an unfortunate accident and the justified shots fired,” said Vandergrift police Chief Joseph Caporali. “I didn't feel there was any ill intent, and Officer Gray felt his life was in danger.”

He said Gray is on medical leave.

Chuck Biedka is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-226-4711 or cbiedka@tribweb.com.

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