Rockwood man originally charged with homicide by vehicle, pleads to DUI

July 19, 2018

A 30-year-old Rockwood man, initially charged with homicide by vehicle, pleaded guilty Wednesday to driving under the influence.

The charges against Derrick Alan Keefer stem from an accident on Jan. 11, 2017, on Scullton Road in Middlecreek Township that killed Nathan Thomas Ohler, 29, of Rockwood.

Keefer crawled out of the truck and walked to a residence in the 1800 block of Scullton Road. The resident called 911. Ohler was trapped in the passenger compartment and had to be extracted by New Centerville firefighters. He died at the scene of blunt force traumatic injuries, according to Somerset County Coroner Wallace Miller, who pronounced his death at the site of the accident. His blood alcohol level was 0.117 percent. The legal limit is .08 percent.

In a second case in which Keefer also pleaded guilty to driving under the influence Wednesday, he lost control of his truck on Oct. 13 while rounding a curve on Scullton Road at a high speed. The vehicle rolled several times, ejecting him from the truck, police said. He was thrown between 104 feet and 156 feet, police said. Debris from the vehicle and its contents struck a parked vehicle and neighboring residence, according to court documents. His blood alcohol level was nearly four times the legal limit.

An ambulance carried Keefer to UPMC Presbyterian hospital in Pittsburgh for treatment.

“The family (Ohler) did not want me to prosecute at all in the case,” District Attorney Lisa Lazzari-Strasiser said, adding that Keefer and Ohler were the best of friends.

Keefer pleaded guilty to the highest offense he could based on his blood alcohol content, she said.

The driving under the influence offense penalty is attached to the blood alcohol content. Keefer must spend between 90 days and up to five years in jail, she said.

Keefer is scheduled to be sentenced at 1 p.m. Sept. 24 before President Judge D. Gregory Geary. Keefer’s defense attorney is David Leake, of Somerset.