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Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Driver Arraigned in Hit-And-Run Killing of Cyclist


ALIQUIPPA -- A Brighton Township man accused of causing a 2014 crash that killed a bicyclist in Aliquippa told police he drank three shots of tequila and seven or eight beers at a bar before driving home.

William D. Edenfield, 60, was arraigned Tuesday morning before Magisterial District Judge James DiBenedetto. He is accused of striking and killing bicyclist Taylor Lee Banks, 23, of Braddock around 6:45 p.m. Oct. 31, 2014 in the northbound lane of Route 51 between Baker Street and the West Aliquippa Bridge. Banks was riding to his mother's house in Rochester at the time.

According to police, just prior to the location of the crash is a posted sign warning drivers of bicyclists.

The following was released in a police report:
Officers and medics were called to the scene of the crash, where Banks was immediately pronounced dead. Police collected several pieces of broken vehicle components, including a emblem from a Dodge truck.

Through early investigation, police learned the license plate number for truck that fled from the crash. Shortly after, the truck -- which had heavy front-end damage -- was seen parked in Monaca. Police approached the vehicle and met with Edenfield, the driver and only occupant. Edenfield said he was headed home from South Heights.

Officers noticed that Edenfield appeared to be intoxicated and took him to Heritage Valley Beaver hospital for a blood test. According to the police report, his blood alcohol level was 0.24 percent.

Edenfield agreed to speak with police after submitting to the test. He told officers he "did not mean to hurt anyone."

Edenfield said he got to D'Amico's Tavern at 115 Jordan Street between 3 and 4 p.m. drank three shots of tequila and seven or eight beers and left about 7 p.m. He took Route 51 toward Monaca on his way home.

While driving through Aliquippa, he said, he noticed a "twinkle" of something ahead but didn't know what it was. Edenfield said he occasionally glanced over his left shoulder at the old mill site where he used to work. At one point he noticed he hit something but couldn't tell what, according to police. Edenfield said he looked in his rear-view mirror and saw something on the side of the road. He pulled over when he got into Monaca, police said.

According to a reconstruction investigation into the crash, when Edenfield hit the bike, he trapped Banks between the guardrail and his truck. This caused Banks to hit several other objects, including wooden and metal guardrail supports while he was dragged by Edenfield's truck.

Banks' mother, Beth Ann, said Edenfield's arrest has given her family great relief. "My family has something to be thankful for this Thanksgiving," she said.

She expressed frustration over how long it took for charges to be filed in the case. "He's been out all this time, living his life day to day, and we can’t function," she said.

According to police, accident reconstruction can often take several months.

Beaver County District Attorney Anthony Berosh previously told The Times that accident reconstruction, unlike other investigations, requires a certified specialist to analyze information from the crash before the district attorney's office decides if -- and what -- charges should be filed.

Edenfield was charged by Aliquippa police with homicide by vehicle, causing an accident involving death, DUI, careless driving and failing to stop and give information. According to online court records, he posted a $25,000 bond and is scheduled for a preliminary hearing Dec. 4.

Also, WPXI video.

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