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COMMONWEALTH v. VINK (09/16/60)

September 16, 1960

COMMONWEALTH
v.
VINK, APPELLANT.



Appeal, No. 20, Oct. T., 1960, from judgment of Court of Quarter Sessions of Franklin County, Sept. T., 1959, No. 11, in case of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. John M. Vink. Judgment reversed.

COUNSEL

Rudolph M. Wertime, for appellant.

Jay L. Benedict, Jr., District Attorney, for Commonwealth, appellee.

Before Rhodes, P.j., Gunther, Wright, Woodside, Ervin, Watkins, and Montgomery, JJ.

Author: Wright

[ 193 Pa. Super. Page 155]

OPINION BY WRIGHT, J.

This case arises as the result of an information made before a justice of the peace by an officer of the Pennsylvania State Police charging that John M. Vink unlawfully operated a tractor-trailer upon the Pennsylvania Turnpike in Metal Township, Franklin County, in violation of Section 1001 of The Vehicle Code,*fn1 which proscribes reckless driving, in that Vink "did then and there push another truck-tractor and semitrailer on the main travelable portion of the highway". Vink waived a hearing before the justice of the peace, and posted cash bail for his appearance before the court of quarter sessions. At the hearing on October 21, 1959, a demurrer to the evidence was overruled. Vink was adjudged guilty and sentenced to pay a fine and the costs of prosecution. This appeal followed.

While on routine patrol west at about 8:00 A.M. on March 18, 1959, the officer came upon a disabled tractortrailer,

[ 193 Pa. Super. Page 156]

    operated by Mathew Karcher for Daniels Motor Freight, facing west and parked near the edge of the concrete roadway at a point where there was a narrow berm. After talking with Karcher, the officer radioed the Turnpike maintenance shed at Burnt Cabins and requested that warning signs be placed at the rear of the tractor-trailer until it could be moved. In response to the officer's request, the maintenance foreman, Oakman, proceeded to the scene. He was operating a Turnpike half-ton truck, orange in color, having mounted on the top thereof a rotating flasher light. Appellant, also operating a tractor-trailer for Daniels Motor Freight, had meanwhile arrived at the scene and prepared to render assistance. Appellant proposed to Oakman that the disabled tractor-trailer should be pushed farther west to a point where there was a wider berm. Appellant then proceeded to push Karcher's tractor-trailer in the right lane of traffic at a speed of about twelve miles per hour. As a safety measure, Oakman followed in the Turnpike truck with the red flasher light in operation. The weather was clear and the roadway dry, straight, and almost level. While there was apparently no other west-bound traffic, operators of vehicles approaching from the east could readily have observed the Turnpike truck with flashing red light, and there was ample room to pass the two tractortrailers in the left lane. Returning on patrol east, the officer discovered what was occurring, and signaled the operators to stop. They pulled to the side of the Turnpike at a point where there was a wider berm, the total distance traveled being less than one-half mile.

The statutory language with which we are here concerned provides that reckless driving "is construed to include the following: "(a) Any person who drives any vehicle ... upon a highway carelessly disregarding the rights or safety of others, or in a manner so as to endanger any person or property". The position of

[ 193 Pa. Super. Page 157]

    the Commonwealth, sustained by the court below, is that appellant's conduct constituted "culpable or criminal negligence amounting to a careless disregard of the rights or safety of others". The appeal is before us on broad certiorari, and we may consider the record to determine whether the conviction is supported by the evidence: Commonwealth v. Stephens, 179 Pa. Superior Ct. 255, 115 A.2d 904. "What is reckless ...


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