Crime

Pedestrian sues driver who hit him

A pedestrian who was hit by a vehicle in December 2006 has filed a civil suit against the woman who hit him, the bar where she drank that night and the owner of the vehicle she was driving when the crash happened.

Police say Michael Drauch, then an 18-year-old Penn State student, stumbled out of an apartment building on the 600 block of West College Avenue and into the path of the vehicle driven by Katherine Applegate. Drauch suffered brain injuries, speech impairment, blurred and double vision, psychological problems, nerve shock, spasms, multiple internal injuries and physical injuries to the left side of his body.

Applegate, 24, of State College, had a blood-alcohol level of .20 at the time; Drauch, of Pittsburgh, had a blood-alcohol level of .24.A judge dismissed an aggravated assault by vehicle while DUI charge against Applegate at a preliminary hearing in December, but she still faces a misdemeanor charge of DUI and a felony charge for fleeing the scene of the accident.

Prosecutors decided not to refile the felony assault charge after an accident reconstruction report determined that Drauch’s intoxication played a significant role in the crash — making a conviction almost impossible, Assistant District Attorney Steve Sloane said last month.

But Drauch family attorney Gary Ogg said in the lawsuit that Applegate’s negligence, carelessness and recklessness was the cause of the crash.

He is asking for $100,000 in damages from Applegate and Patricia Patten, of Chadds Ford, who owned the vehicle Applegate was driving.

Patten told police she gave Applegate her keys after leaving Zola New World Bistro, 324 W. College Ave., State College, because Patten was not sober enough to drive. In the suit, Ogg writes that Patten caused harm to Drauch when she entrusted her vehicle to Applegate.

Drauch also is suing the bar and owner Kenash Inc. for another $100,000 in damages for serving Patten and Applegate after they became “visibly intoxicated.”

Dave Fonash, co-owner of the corporation, said Wednesday that his attorneys are providing necessary documents to the insurance company. He did not know when and if a response would be filed.

Applegate’s attorney, Skip Arbuckle, has requested a non-jury trial be scheduled in Centre County court for the remaining criminal charges against Applegate. He could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

Sara Ganim can be reached at 231-4616.

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