Crime

Police say he ran over a teen with an Jeep and left her to die. He pleaded guilty

A second man charged in the 2017 all-terrain vehicle crash that killed Hollidaysburg teenager Mikayla Focht has pleaded guilty.

Jacob Helsel, 19, of Hollidaysburg, now faces at least three years in prison, according to WJAC.

Helsel pleaded guilty to a second-degree felony charge of accidents involving death or personal injury and misdemeanor tampering with evidence, along with several summary charges. He struck his plea deal just as jury selection was about to start in his four-day trial in Blair County Court on Monday.

Helsel's guilty plea comes on the heels of that of Trenton Ross Bilak, 24, who pleaded guilty June 15 for his role in the standout softball player's death.

"My client wanted to take responsibility for his actions," Helsel's attorney Christopher Jancula told the Altoona Mirror. "He wanted to make sure we didn't put the family through anymore pain."

Bellefonte's softball team gave Hollidaysburg players flowers in honor of Mikayla Focht, who recently passed away in an ATV crash. Mikayla was a senior at Hollidaysburg and was committed to playing at Saint Francis in college.

Focht, 18, was riding on the back of an ATV driven by Ross on April 14, 2017, when they hit a deer in Greenfield Township, Blair County. The two were reportedly not wearing helmets and thrown from the vehicle. Helsel was following the pair in a Jeep and allegedly ran over Focht. Helsel and Bilak allegedly fled the scene instead of calling for help. Focht was eventually found, hours later, by a passing motorist.

Bilak, of Everett, pleaded guilty to charges of felony homicide by vehicle, felony crash involving death, misdemeanor involuntary manslaughter and misdemeanor tampering with evidence. He also faces summary offenses of operating an ATV on streets, reckless driving, careless driving and not driving at a safe speed.

He also faces up to three years in jail, the state's minimum for those convicted on accidents involving death or personal injuries charges.

At the time of the crash, Focht was a senior at Hollidaysburg Area High School, with plans to go to college and play softball for St. Francis University.

Bilak is scheduled to be sentenced in September, while no sentencing date has yet been set for Helsel.

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