Pa. Family Wants 911 Records in Fatal Accident

Nov. 5, 2011
A private investigator is making a second attempt to gain access to 911 calls that were made when a Fayette County teenager was killed two years ago in a vehicle accident.

A private investigator is making a second attempt to gain access to 911 calls that were made when a Fayette County teenager was killed two years ago in a vehicle accident.

Ewing Marcus Marietta II, 18, of South Connellsville, died July 15, 2009, three days after the accident in North Union. Police said Marietta was ejected from his car when it hit a concrete barrier on Route 40 East near Hopwood and rolled over.

Although police said only one vehicle was involved, the family hired an accident reconstructionist, James E. Baranowski, who has determined there "was another vehicle or vehicles involved," according to a civil lawsuit.

Filed in July in the prothonotary's office in Fayette County, the civil lawsuit names four unknown individuals as defendants: the drivers and owners of as many as two other vehicles that Baranowski believes were involved in the accident.

Citing Baranowski's findings, the family's attorney, Mark A. Rowan of Connellsville, filed a motion on Thursday seeking access to the 911 records.

"As the investigation of Mr. Baranowski indicates that Marcus may not have died from the collision itself, as the police report indicates, completing the investigation would require reviewing the 911 transcript, the recording, and being able to contact the callers," Rowan wrote in the filing.

Baranowski concluded that Ewing, at 6 feet 4 inches tall, was too tall to have been ejected through the window of his 2001 Ford Mustang, the filing contended. Baranowski found that the driver's side door and window were crushed as the vehicle rolled, making it even more unlikely Ewing was ejected.

Ewing's shoes would have been thrown randomly from the vehicle if the teen had been ejected, according to the filing. But they were found near each other at the rear of the vehicle, which Baranowski found to be "consistent with a pedestrian being struck by another vehicle."

Baranowski questioned whether police followed procedures when they interviewed witnesses at the scene.

"The police stated to Marcus' father that they had spoken with two individuals who were parked below the location where Marcus was laying at the scene of the accident, but the police stated that these individuals did not offer information of value to the investigation, and they were not identified on the report," Rowan wrote. "According to Mr. Baranowski, who is a retired Pennsylvania state trooper, this is contrary to standard police procedures."

Other results of Baranowski's investigation, according to the filing, include a finding "that the initial caller to 911 gave the operator a false name," and that a person at the scene was worried his breath smelled of alcohol.

The request marks Baranowski's second attempt to gain access to 911 records pertaining to the accident. In a petition filed through the criminal courts last year, Baranowski made similar arguments in an attempt to review the records.

In a one-line order issued in May 2010, Judge Ralph Warman rejected the request.

Copyright 2011 Tribune Review Publishing CompanyAll Rights Reserved

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