Bellefonte man sentenced to up 18 years for fatal crash

A Bellefonte man will serve up to 18 years for a December 2011 crash that killed a Port Matilda woman.

Mathew Shirk, 30, was convicted in May of a slate of charges arising from the crash, in which Kelly Rider was killed, and Shirk, Emilee Neely and Ryan Daniels were injured.

The crash occurred in the early morning hours after a night of socializing at a local bar and driving a friend’s off-road-modified pickup truck. Prosecutors said Shirk’s blood-alcohol level was .196 at the hospital two hours after the crash.

The most serious counts were homicide by vehicle, homicide by vehicle while driving under the influence, three counts of aggravated assault by vehicle while DUI and three of accidents involving death or injury while not properly licensed. Other charges included DUI, DUI over 0.16 BAC, involuntary manslaughter, simple assault, reckless endangerment and a raft of summary traffic offenses.

He was free on bail pending sentencing, but was back before Centre County Judge Jonathan D. Grine on Monday for sentencing.

“Despite the defendant’s repeated attempts to shrink responsibility for his crimes, justice was delivered. The defendant chose to get behind the wheel with a BAC almost three times the legal limit,” Centre County District Attorney Stacy Parks Miller said. “He was drinking while driving and was speeding in the dark rainy fog in a truck that was elevated with large mudding tires that he helped to put on. He senselessly took a life and it was entirely avoidable. Now Kelly Rider’s family and the surviving victims can continue to heal knowing Shirk will account for his actions.”

Shirk’s attorney, Brian Manchester, said he had no comment on either the sentence or any potential appeals.

His client, however, made his own statements during his two-day trial. He thanked the truck driver who was the first person to respond to the scene, saying it was just something he had to do. He also said the most important thing for him in taking the stand was to say he was sorry.

Shirk was taken into custody after the hearing.