2017-11-16 / Front Page

Freeman Pleads Guilty to Homicide by Vehicle Charges

Sentencing for May Crash to be Held at Later Date
By Cain Chamberlin

Tyler FreemanTyler FreemanA 20-year-old man has reportedly pleaded guilty to two counts of homicide, felonies of the third degree, following a May 24 truck vs. motorcycle crash in Orwell Township.

Tyler J. Freeman of Aliquippa, who was 19 at the time of the crash and living with his grandparents’ in Rome, was the driver of the Ford Ranger pickup truck that collided head-on with a motorcycle along Route 187 just before 9 p.m. that evening, which left two people dead.

Riding the motorcycle was married couple, David L. Estelle, 48, and Billie Jo Estelle, 42, of Rome, who were headed north along Route 187 on a Sunday cruise.

The joyride took a tragic turn when Freeman left his southbound lane in an attempt to pass another vehicle, veering directly into the path of the Estelles who were northbound.

The impact on the northbound shoulder caused David and Billie Jo Estelle to launch forward. David Estelle reportedly went airborne over the top of the truck and struck the ground in the middle of the northbound lane where he succumbed to his injuries. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Billie Jo Estelle was also ejected from the motorcycle and taken to Guthrie Robert Packer Hospital, where she remained in critical condition until she passed away on Friday, May 26. 

Freeman was also transported from the scene in an ambulance with suspected minor injuries.

State police conducted a crash investigation, which included interviewing the operator of the witness vehicle, who stated Freeman had approached her from behind at a high rate of speed, passed her using the northbound lane and collided with the motorcycle.

A witness who saw the incident from her front porch also reportedly told police that Freeman was traveling at a high rate of speed when passing the vehicle.

In a non-custodial written statement, Freeman later stated he came up behind a Jeep SUV in the southbound lane and was traveling approximately 50 to 55 mph.

At a distance of around 25 feet behind the Jeep, Freeman claims he observed an animal resembling a fox enter the roadway, which caused him to veer into the northbound lane to avoid it. He said he instantly saw the front headlight of the motorcycle and veered sharper to the left into the ditch along the northbound lane.

He claimed that’s when he collided with the motorcycle, states the criminal affidavit.

Police reportedly told Freeman that his statement did not match the testimony of the two witnesses and was offered a chance to revise his statement if any elements were untruthful. Freeman maintained that he was not attempting to overtake the Jeep SUV and did not pass the vehicle. He claims the collision with the motorcycle occurred behind the Jeep.

Freeman also faces a slew of traffic violations including limitations on overtaking on the left, passing in no-passing zones, driving on roadways laned for traffic, following too closely, speeding, careless driving, reckless driving and occupant protection.

Following the guilty plea, he will be sentenced at a later date following the preparation of a presentence investigation by the Bradford County Probation Department.

Trooper Michael Mogish of the PA State Police reportedly arrested Freeman following the investigation into the fatal crash. 

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