New Castle News

October 2, 2012

Man charged in crash that injured girlfriend

Debbie Wachter
New Castle News

NEW CASTLE — A Wampum man is facing multiple charges following an accident that severely injured his girlfriend.

State police arrested Joshua Michael Lagala, 20, of 198 Short St. yesterday as a result of the Aug. 25 crash.

Ashley Skiles, 19, of Beaver Falls was thrown from the car Lagala had been driving around 10:30 p.m. She suffered severe injuries, including multiple broken bones in her torso. The car was owned by her mother, according to court records.

Police said Lagala was speeding on Route 18 in North Beaver Township and went off the south berm, then swerved back onto the road and spun counter-clockwise into the northbound lane, ejecting Skiles, who was the front-seat passenger. She landed in the middle of Route 18.

The car then went onto the north berm and hit a guard rail several times and stopped in the northbound lane.

Police said they found bloodstains and locks of Skiles’ hair on the travel lanes of Route 18 and she was not wearing shoes. Her flip-flops were found on the passenger’s side under the floor mat.

Police talked to a semiconscious Skiles at the scene and she said Lagala had been driving, but she could not answer any more questions because of her injuries.

She was flown to the trauma unit of St. Elizabeth Health Center in Youngstown. Police said she suffered several breaks to her pelvis, a broken femur, at least four broken ribs, a broken shoulder, several fractured vertebrae, severe injuries to her hands and feet and severe abrasions to her face. She was expected to undergo several operations and then be transferred to a nursing facility in Beaver County for rehabilitation.

Troopers said Lagala smelled of alcohol and could not tell them his name or how the accident occurred. He told police Skiles is his girlfriend, and he had called her name after the crash but she did not answer. He said he didn’t see her in the car, then he saw her lying on the road.

He said he pulled her off the road so another car did not come along and hit her.

Lagala told police the two had been drinking at a party and were arguing in the car over who was more intoxicated and who should be driving. He told police neither he nor Skiles was wearing a seat belt.

Police said he submitted to a field sobriety test and a blood alcohol test, and the results showed his blood alcohol level to be 0.134 percent.

Lagala is charged with aggravated assault by vehicle while driving under the influence, two counts of driving under the influence, recklessly endangering another person, driving on the wrong side of the road, disregarding traffic lanes, driving at an unsafe speed, careless driving, minor prohibited from driving with any alcohol in system, reckless driving, violation of restriction on alcoholic beverages, failure to use restraint systems, and purchase, consumption, possession or transportation of liquor or malt brewed beverages by a minor.

He was arraigned by District Judge Jennifer L. Nicholson, who lodged him in the Lawrence County jail in lieu of $5,000 bond.

(Email: dwachter@ncnewsonline.com)