SOUTH BEND TOWNSHIP — Alcohol appears to have been a factor in a violent traffic collision that claimed the lives of five people April 16 on Route 156 near Gobblers Run Road, the Armstrong County Coroner’s office reported.
Toxicology tests performed on tissue samples show one of the drivers, Brandon James Sulava, 19, of Apollo, had alcohol in his system at the time of the accident.
Sulava and two passengers riding in his Ford Mustang — Brandon Sauers, 15, of Apollo, and Brieyonah Painter, 18, of Kittanning — were killed instantly in the crash.
Crystal Kay Kelley, 41, of Avonmore, the driver of a Chevrolet Lumina, died at the scene of the crash, and a passenger in her car, Kent G. Smith, 34, of Elderton, died the following day at UPMC Presbyterian Hospital in Pittsburgh.
Investigators said Sulava’s westbound car crossed the centerline and traveled into the path of Kelley’s car.
“Since we had to use tissue samples, I cannot give an exact BAC (blood-alcohol content),” said Coroner Brian Myers. “But definitely, alcohol and speed were the main factors in the crash.”
Tests for alcohol on Kelley were negative, Myers said.
The tests were performed by the Cyril Wecht Associates pathology lab in Pittsburgh.
Two other passengers in Kelley’s car were critically injured in the crash. Her husband, Robert Kelley Jr., 33, and a friend, Kristy Ann Schall, 35, of Shelocta, also were flown to UPMC Presbyterian for treatment.