Update: Police release details in fatal crash/structure fire

Staff Writer

HOME — In an updated release regarding a fatal crash and structure fire that occurred at 1:30 p.m. on Thursday at Pikel's Top Tier Fuels, located at the intersection of State Route 119 and State Route 85 in Rayne Township, Indiana County, police announced that a 33-year-old man has been charged with various felony counts, including homicide by vehicle while DUI.

The fire severely damaged the fuel service station building, the involved vehicle (a 2003 Subaru Outback station wagon) and an unattended vehicle in the parking lot. Ms. Melissa Ann Myers, 52, of Commodore, who was an employee of the service station, was on duty and was found by first responders to be deceased inside the building. An autopsy was scheduled for Friday morning in Windber.

Troopers located one of the vehicle occupants at the scene, and he was identified as James Eugene Brown, 33, with no permanent residence. Brown was treated and released from Indiana Regional Medical center and was found to have sustained minor injuries. Police said that upon further investigation, and after conducting numerous interviews, Brown was identified as the person who was operating the vehicle at the time of the crash. The release also stated that troopers believe that Brown was intoxicated at the time of the crash and was not wearing a seatbelt.

Brown was charged on Thursday with the following crimes and violations and was lodged in the Indiana County Jail to await arraignment before Magisterial District Judge Susanne V. Steffee: one count of homicide by vehicle (felony 2), two counts of aggravated assault by vehicle while DUI (felony 2), one count of homicide by vehicle (felony 3), two counts of accidents involving death or personal injury while not properly licensed (felony 3), two separate misdemeanor counts of DUI and summary offenses of drivers required to be licensed, driving while operating privilege is suspended or revoked (three counts), driving on right side of the roadway, careless driving, reckless driving, false reports and occupant protection.

A second male occupant fled the scene on foot traveling north along State Route 119. Information was relayed to Troop C, Punxsutawney and the Punxsutawney Borough Police. Borough police then located the male, identified as Michael A. White, 32, of Punxsutawney, and took him into custody at a residence in Punxsutawney later in the afternoon.

White was found to have sustained minor injuries and was treated and released from Punxsutawney Area Hospital. White was later confirmed by troopers to be the sole passenger of the 2003 Outback; he was then released into police custody, and no charges are pending against him.