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A Bainbridge man will serve up to 15 years in prison for being intoxicated when he caused a head-on vehicle collision that killed a Mount Joy man. Bryan Knowles, 38, had a blood-alcohol level nearly four times the legal limit for drivers on Jan. 15 when his pickup trick veered across Route 441 and into an SUV driven by Joseph Zito. Zito, 56, died of injuries sustained in the crash.
On Friday in Lancaster County Court, Knowles pleaded guilty to vehicular homicide while DUI, vehicular homicide and DUI. Knowles will serve 6½ to 15 years in prison, followed by five years of probation, in accordance with an agreement arranged by Assistant District Attorney Jared Hinsey. Lancaster County President Judge Dennis Reinaker accepted the plea terms and ordered sentence. Knowles also was ordered to pay $2,827 restitution regarding funeral costs.
Knowles was originally charged with criminal homicide and other offenses. Police determined Knowles took a Breathalyzer test a few minutes before driving. The test revealed he was intoxicated – but he drove anyway. As part of the plea terms, prosecutors dropped the homicide charge after considering the facts and circumstances of the case. Also considered was potential sentence if Knowles was convicted at trial of all charges compared to the 6½ -year minimum included in the agreement.
Zito’s survivors said in court that the crash has torn their family apart. They described Joseph as a man who always put his family first.