A woman charged with involuntary manslaughter in a fatal accident involving a horse-drawn buggy just before Thanksgiving 2010 was sentenced to probation Friday before President Judge William Martin in the Court of Common Pleas.
Genevieve Reid, of Blairsville, originally had been charged with homicide by vehicle and careless driving as well as involuntary manslaughter. She pleaded guilty to the manslaughter charge in October under a plea agreement,
Reid was driving a pickup truck on Route 217 near Blacklick Road, Blacklick Township, when she collided with a buggy driven by Amanda Risinger, of Homer City, shortly before 4 p.m. Mark Poorbaugh, 20, of Blairsville, was thrown from the cart and died three days later at Allegheny General Hospital.
Witnesses who testified in August 2011 at a preliminary hearing said they were traveling in a larger horse-drawn cart in front of the buggy and saw the truck approaching at a steady speed. They tried to get her attention by standing or waiving their arms, and they testified she was looking down and did not see the cart.
At the time, there was a question whether she may have been using a cellphone. But Martin said the district attorney’s office had found there was conclusive evidence that she was not using the phone at the time of the accident.
Jody Poorbaugh, supported by her husband, Mark Poorbaugh, tearfully told the court that losing their son has devastated the family. She told of getting a phone call that he had been in an accident, and seeing helicopters circling as they drove to the scene. She spoke of seeing him briefly in the ambulance, telling him they loved him and that he would be OK, then learning he was going into emergency surgery before they could reach the hospital.
“We sat in that hospital until Nov. 24 when we had to come home without our son because you couldn’t pay attention,” she said. “He left a hole in our hearts that can’t ever be filled.”
She spoke of his love for the outdoors, the time he spent with his siblings and how he wanted to start a masonry business. She mourned the memories they would never make. And she questioned whether Reid cared.
“You sat so stone-cold that day in August” at the preliminary hearing, she said. “You looked like you were bored. … We hope you finally realized how much you have taken away from us, and that is something you have to live with every day.”
Reid also addressed the court, turning to look at the family when she expressed her sorrow.
“I’m so sorry,” she told them. “It was never intentional. … I just never saw (him).”
Reid told the court that she wasn’t negligent or on her phone, that she didn’t have so much as a traffic ticket, and that the sun had blinded her as she approached the hill. Her 3-year-old granddaughter was in the truck, she said.
“It was an accident and I’m sorry,” she said.
Reid’s attorney, Robert Dougherty, said Reid was remorseful, the “exact opposite” of not caring. He said she has had to take medication for anxiety and depression since the accident, and that she wanted to contact the family to express her regret but that her previous attorney counseled her against it.
“It was a horrible, tragic situation, but it was just an accident,” he said.
Martin said the prosecution had recommended a mitigated sentence, and that he took into account her age and health and the fact that she has no prior criminal record. He sentenced her to five years of probation, and ordered her to pay court costs of $304.50; a $500 fine; and restitution of $10,132.88.