Man Charged in Crash That Killed Pa. Fire Chief

Charges have been filed in a Feb. 2 crash that took the life of Franklin Township's fire chief and left an assistant chief critically injured while they were en route to the station.

Joshua L. Nickerson, 29, was arraigned Tuesday on criminal charges after turning himself into Pennsylvania State Police, according to The Erie Times-News.

The 14 charges include homicide by vehicle, aggravated assault by vehicle, driving under the influence of alcohol or controlled substance, and involuntary manslaughter.

Fire Chief David Flint was driving his personal vehicle and Assistant Chief Sharon Petri was in the passenger seat when they were struck by a Jeep driven by Nickerson that crossed into the oncoming lane of New Road around 6:45 p.m.

Flint and Petri were just five miles away from the station where they were set to participate in a weekly training drill.

They had to be extricated from the wreck by responders. Flint was pronounced dead at UPMC Hamot that night and Petri sustained a broken nick and pelvis.

Nickerson was allegedly driving under the influence of marijuana and Oxymorphone when the crash occurred.

State police say Nickerson claimed to have heard a loud noise behind him, and he turned around to look when the crash occurred.

He also was charged in an incident that occurred just seven minutes earlier in which he hit a car in the parking lot of a Walmart.

Erie County District Attorney Jack Daneri told the newspaper that the length of time it took to file the charges was due in part to collecting all of the information in both crashes.

Nickerson is free on $2,500 bond and is tentatively scheduled to appear in court for his preliminary hearing on May 15.

Shortly after the crash occurred, Capt. Jim O'Hara told that Flint was "one of the smartest guys I know. He was a very smart, very compassionate man. I don't think there was any part of the fire service that he didn't know anything about."

The 49-year-old chief served close to 10 years with the department and has been its leader for six years.