Man faces homicide charge in fatal crash

Altoona man accused of ramming into car head-on while DUI, killing teen

MOUNT UNION — David Searcy, 58, of Altoona faces a homicide charge from a car crash that led to a local teen’s death in January in Mifflin County.

According to the affidavit of probable cause, at 9 p.m. Jan. 20, police responded to a three-vehicle crash on U.S. 22/522 in Wayne Township. The vehicles involved in the crash were a red Ford Focus, a blue 2000 Ford F-250 and a black 2004 Pontiac Grand Prix.

According to police, while traveling north, the Pontiac Grand Prix, driven by Searcy, caused the crash by trying to pass the F-250, while the Focus was traveling south. The Grand Prix hit the Focus head on, which in turn caused the Focus to hit the F-250.

According to police, the driver of the Focus, who was later identified as Chantel Elsesser, was transferred to J.C. Blair Memorial Hospital in Huntingdon. The driver of the F-250, who was identified later as Scott Brandoff, was not injured and drove away from the scene. The driver of the Grand Prix, later identified as Searcy, showed signs of impairment. He was transported to Geisinger-Lewistown Hospital and, via a blood test, found Searcy’s blood-alcohol concentration was .027%, more than three times the legal limit.

According to the affidavit, police discovered an empty clear glass bottle on top of the snow next to the Grand Prix.

Police reported on Jan. 24 that Elsesser’s father told police Chantel Elsesser went into cardiac arrest twice and had no brain activity. Chantel Elsesser was pronounced dead at Hershey Medical Center on Jan. 28.

According to the affidavit, police said Searcy told them he was passing the truck and didn’t know how fast the other driver was going, and that he saw her coming and tried to get over.

Searcy is facing felony charges of homicide by vehicle while driving under the influence, aggravated assault by vehicle while under the influence, aggravated assault by vehicle, homicide by vehicle and accidents involving death or injury while not licensed.

Searcy also faces multiple misdemeanor charges of driving under the influence, involuntary manslaughter and three counts of recklessly endangering another person; summary charges of driving without a license, driving while license is revoked, careless driving reckless driving and other traffic offenses.

Searcy is currently incarcerated at Mifflin County Correctional Facility without bail. His preliminary hearing is scheduled for 9 a.m. Wednesday before Magisterial District Judge Jack E. Miller.


Today's breaking news and more in your inbox

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)