No. 1363 April Term, 1978, Appeal from the Judgment of Sentence of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, at No. CC 7706439, Criminal Division.
James V. Voss, Pittsburgh, for appellant.
Edward A. Yurcon, Assistant District Attorney, Pittsburgh, for Commonwealth, appellee.
Spaeth, Wickersham and Lipez, JJ.
[ 290 Pa. Super. Page 416]
A two vehicle collision resulted in the death of a passenger in the jeep operated by appellant, Daniel Cienkowski. The accident occurred at the intersection of Routes 28 and 910 in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania on August 19, 1977 about 11:00 p. m., on a clear dry night. Route 28 is a public road proceeding generally in a north-south direction and at the point where it intersects with Route 910 it consists of six lanes-three lanes in either direction. Two lanes proceed through the intersection in each direction and there is a left turn lane for both north bound and south bound traffic. Route 910 is a public road proceeding generally in a westeast direction, and is a four lane highway at a point of this intersection. The intersection is governed by traffic signals.
Testimony at trial revealed that Daniel Cienkowski was proceeding east on Route 910, approaching the intersection. A truck driven by John Edward Ecker was proceeding south on Route 28 in the right hand lane of traffic and struck the Cienkowski jeep in the intersection. The impact caused the jeep to spin across the intersection and strike a car in the left turn lane on the northbound side of Route 28.
On September 1, 1977, criminal complaints against Daniel Cienkowski were issued charging him, inter alia, with one count of involuntary manslaughter. A non-jury trial was held on December 19 and 20, 1977, in the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County. The basic issue at the trial was whether the traffic signal governing traffic proceeding east on Route 910 was red when Cienkowski approached the intersection. Cienkowski's demurrer to the charge of involuntary manslaughter was denied and he was found guilty of this charge. Cienkowski filed a motion for a new trial and a motion in arrest of judgment and on September 6, 1978, both
[ 290 Pa. Super. Page 417]
motions were denied. On September 18, 1978, judgment of sentence of probation was entered. Cienkowski then filed this timely appeal.
Involuntary manslaughter is defined in 18 Pa.C.S. § 2504(a) as follows:
A person is guilty of involuntary manslaughter when as a direct result of the doing of an unlawful act in a reckless or grossly negligent manner, he causes the death of another person.
We have frequently addressed the issue of the type of conduct sufficient to warrant conviction for involuntary manslaughter is a result of automobile accidents. These decisions establish that a mere vehicle code violation, without aggravating circumstances, is ...