Charges won’t be filed in Route 30 fatal
The daughter of an Allegheny County judge, who struck and killed a North Huntingdon Township teenager who was crossing Route 30 with friends before daylight Aug. 20, apparently will face no serious criminal charges from the accident.
However, Crystal Baldwin, 30, of Swissvale, may still face a summary charge of driving without a valid license in connection with the accident that resulted in the death of Nicholas Anderson, 16, according to township police Chief Charles Henaghan.
Henaghan said the Westmoreland County District Attorney’s Office is attempting to determine whether Baldwin, the daughter of Judge Cynthia A. Baldwin, was driving with a valid license when she struck and killed Anderson as the youth and five friends were crossing Route 30 at 5:45 a.m.
“Our officers have determined that there was no criminal culpability on her part in connection with the accident. The only thing left to determine is whether or not she was driving with a suspended license at the time of the accident,” Henaghan said.
According to documents, Penn Township District Justice Helen Kistler’s office sent at least five notices to PennDOT to seek the suspension of Crystal Baldwin’s license for failure to pay a fine, constable costs and other costs related to a traffic citation issued to her on the Pennsylvania Turnpike in February.
It could not be determined from the records available in Kistler’s office whether PennDOT had suspended Baldwin’s license or whether she had been notified.
PennDOT does not release personal driving records. Unlike other states, an individual’s driving record is not considered a public record under Pennsylvania law, and access is restricted to certain people, including the individual involved and law enforcement authorities.
Records showed that on Feb. 24, state police cited Baldwin for failure to obey posted traffic safety signs while she was driving a 2003 Buick sedan. The judge’s daughter didn’t begin paying a related fine and costs until May 20, or almost three months after the citation was issued, according to records at Kistler’s office.
During that time, other subsequent court costs were assessed by Kistler’s office. When Baldwin didn’t pay those court costs, the district justice’s office issued notices to PennDOT to suspend Baldwin’s driving privileges.
A notice to suspend Baldwin’s license was sent March 7 after Baldwin didn’t pay a fine or costs related to the initial citation. Subsequent notices to suspend the license were sent on March 25, June 18, July 7 and Aug. 21, records in Kistler’s office showed.
Baldwin paid the last of the cost associated with the citation on Aug. 25 — five days after the fatal accident, records showed. According to court papers, a money order was used to make the last payment at Kistler’s office.
A previous payment of $41.70 was mailed and paid by check. It was received by Kistler’s office on Aug. 21, a day after the accident.
Baldwin’s concern over the potential loss of her license was expressed in a letter sent to Kistler’s office. In the handwritten correspondence dated Aug. 22 and signed by Baldwin, she discussed the subsequent costs assessed against her and stated, “My understanding is that my check was posted and that there is no suspension in effect.”
Township police said the accident occurred as Anderson stepped from a center turning lane on Route 30 at the highway’s intersection with Thompson Lane. Police reports said Anderson was struck as he stepped into the eastbound lane.
He was pronounced dead at Mercy Jeannette Hospital. The coroner’s office said Anderson died of blunt-force trauma to his head and chest.
Police have not disclosed where Anderson and his friends were headed or their activities prior to the accident.
Yesterday, Westmoreland County Chief Deputy Coroner Paul Cycak refused to release the results of toxicology tests done on Anderson after the accident. Cycak said the toxicology records are not being disclosed because police are still investigating the case.
Anderson was a student at Norwin High School and was employed as a dishwasher at Park Classic Diner in Monroeville.
He was the son of Andrew Anderson of East McKeesport and Lisa Kmetz Anderson of North Huntingdon.
Baldwin has declined comment since the accident. Acquaintances said Baldwin is employed as a chef in Greensburg and has been attending school in the evening.
She was a Pennsylvania delegate to the 2000 Democratic National Convention.
Repeated attempts to reach Baldwin for comment yesterday were unsuccessful.