Motorist Charged with Homicide by Vehicle in Center Township

CENTER TWP., Pa. – A motorist was charged with Homicide by Vehicle following a fatal crash on State Route 119 in Center Township, Indiana County, late Thursday night.

The motorist, 28-year-old Elias Lopez Jimenez, of Indiana, was charged with felony counts of Homicide by Vehicle, Accidents Involving Death or Personal Injury, and Accidents Involving Death or Injury While Not Licensed, as well as several summary Vehicle Code violations.

On Thursday, January 26, 2023, around 11:29 p.m., members of the Troop A, Indiana Patrol Unit were dispatched to a two-vehicle crash on Route 119, north of Lucerne Road, in Center Township, Indiana County.

Upon arrival, troopers learned that an occupant of a 2017 Hyundai Elantra was receiving chest compressions for cardiac arrest and that the driver of a 2005 Chevrolet Cobalt had fled the scene on foot.

During the course of the investigation, troopers determined that the 2005 Chevrolet Cobalt was traveling north in the southbound lanes of State Route 119. The 2017 Hyundai Elantra was traveling south on Route 119 in the southbound lanes. The driver of the Hyundai Elantra, identified as 30-year-old Christopher A. Sipes, of Greensburg, was unable to avoid the Chevrolet Cobalt as it entered the Elantra’s lane of travel.

The Cobalt then struck the Elantra at the 10 o’clock position.

A backseat passenger of the Elantra, who had been seat belted at the time of the crash, was identified as a 30-year-old male, of Jeannette, Pa., and was found to have sustained serious injuries. He was transported to Indiana Regional Medical Center (IRMC) and was later pronounced deceased as a result of injuries suffered during the crash.

The second passenger of Elantra, identified as 29-year-old Brian R. Myers, of Greensburg, was using a seat belt. He was transported to IRMC for treatment of suspected minor injuries.

Sipes, who was also seat belted, was also transported to IRMC for treatment of suspected minor injuries.

While on the scene, troopers began canvassing the area and followed footprints from the driver’s side of the Cobalt into a wooded area that led onto the Hoodlebug Trail. The tracks led north on the Hoodlebug Trail and eventually crossed over Wayne Avenue and into the Quality Inn & Suites parking lot (1545 Wayne Avenue).

The footprints led to an entrance of the Quality Inn & Suites.

After reviewing surveillance video from Sheetz (2260 Route 119 Highway South) and gathering additional identifying information, troopers spoke with staff at Quality Inn & Suites. Troopers then located Jimenez hiding under a bed in a hotel room there.

During their encounter with Jimenez, troopers observed that he displayed indicators of being under the influence alcohol, and he was placed under arrest. Jimenez was then transported to Indiana Regional Medical Center for a blood draw. Results of the blood test are pending receipt of laboratory results.

Jimenez was also determined to not possess a valid driver’s license.

He was then processed and transported to the Indiana County Jail to await his preliminary arraignment.

On January 27 at 8:15 a.m., he was arraigned before Magisterial District Judge Christopher Welch.

Bail was denied.

A preliminary hearing is scheduled for February 13 at 10:20 a.m.

Members of the Troop A, Indiana Patrol Unit were assisted on the scene by the Troop A Forensic Services Unit, the Troop A Collision Analysis and Reconstruction Specialist (CARS) Unit, Indiana County District Attorney Robert Manzi, Jr., and Indiana County Coroner Jerry Overman, Jr. Additional agencies assisting at the scene included Citizens’ Ambulance Service and Homer City Volunteer Fire Department.

State Route 119 in the area of the crash scene was closed for several hours during the investigation and crash reconstruction.

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