Scottdale family plans to file civil suit against truck driver in Youngwood crash

Sign up for one of our email newsletters.Updated 6 minutes ago A Scottdale family still recuperating from injuries sustained when a pickup truck slammed into their car in Youngwood on Mother's Day 2016 has given notice they intend to file a civil personal...

Scottdale family plans to file civil suit against truck driver in Youngwood crash

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Updated 6 minutes ago

A Scottdale family still recuperating from injuries sustained when a pickup truck slammed into their car in Youngwood on Mother's Day 2016 has given notice they intend to file a civil personal injury lawsuit against the driver.

Vicky and William Schuler of Scottdale and their sons, Gavin, 2, and Austin, 1, filed notice in the Westmoreland County Prothonotary's office this week that they plan to sue Matthew Marshall Murphy, 24, of Scottdale. State police charged Murphy earlier this month with three counts of aggravated assault by vehicle and additional charges of simple assault, reckless endangerment and traffic violations.

Troopers allege Murphy was driving at least 71 mph on Route 119 just outside Youngwood when his pickup slammed into the rear of the Schulers' northbound car as they drove to church services in Greensburg around 10 a.m. on May 8, seriously injuring all four.

The Schulers' attorney, Nathaniel B. Smith of Altoona, said Friday he could not comment on the specific claims the family will make in the civil complaint.

“We are still in the investigation phase for the potential civil claims arising out of this incident,” Smith said.

“Filing the lawsuit will enable us to subpoena records that are otherwise not accessible. The Schulers have been through a tremendous amount of pain and fear for the future, and they are still on the mend,” he said.

Smith said the family's strong religious faith and support from the community has assisted in their recovery.

“Their faith, family and friends have been an incredible help to them. Beyond that, I cannot comment on the details of their claims,” he said.

Attempts to reach Murphy's attorney, Brian Aston of Greensburg, for comment Friday were unsuccessful.

During a brief appearance Feb. 15 before Youngwood District Judge Anthony Bompiani, Murphy, a union carpenter, said he was headed to a relative's home to pick up picnic tables to take to Scottdale for a Mother's Day celebration when the crash occurred.

The state police accident reconstruction team determined that his Dodge Ram truck was traveling between 71 and 78 mph in a 35 mph zone when it struck the Schulers' 2011 Hyundai Elantra, according to an affidavit of probable cause.

The car was pushed through the intersection with East Hillis Street and struck a concrete barrier, then rolled over multiple times before coming to rest on its roof in a grass lot on East Third Street, the affidavit states.

Several witnesses told police they ran to assist the Schulers after the collision and had to lift the car's roof off the legs of Vicky Schuler, who was lying next to the car; William Schuler was lying in the grass about 30 feet away.

Witnesses told police Murphy's pickup entered the nearby shopping plaza parking lot and sideswiped a parked vehicle before it stopped.

Vicky Schuler, 29, had major back surgery that required insertion of pins and rods, family and friends said last summer. “Will,” 34, who was thrown from the car, needed pins and rods in his right arm.

Austin was released from the hospital the day after the accident. Gavin, the most seriously injured, remained in the hospital until June 6. Family and friends said he had speech, physical and occupational therapies at the Children's Institute in Squirrel Hill afterward.

Community and church members have held numerous fundraisers for the family.

On Wednesday, Murphy formally waived his right to a preliminary hearing, allowing the criminal case to proceed to Common Pleas Court for trial. He remains free on $25,000 recognizance bond.

Paul Peirce is a reporter for the Tribune-Review. He can be reached at 724-850-2860 or ppeirce@tribweb.com

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