The California University of Pennsylvania community is mourning the tragic death of one of their students. The 21-year-old Littlestown resident passed away just before midnight at Jefferson Regional Medical Center in Jefferson Hills, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, as reported by

The young man was a passenger in the SUV, owned and driven by a friend from college. The motor vehicle accident occurred when the driver lost control of her vehicle while traveling north on the Mon-Fayetteville Expressway in Union Township. According to the State Police, the SUV traveled into the median and landed in the southbound expressway lanes. The driver suffered from injuries to her wrist and arm, while the young man’s injuries were much more serious. He passed away approximately three hours after the accident.

Valley Inn and Finleyville firefighters, Washington and New Stanton State Police and many local ambulance and traffic control crews assisted at the scene of the accident.

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Spokespeople from the university expressed their deep condolences and described the young man as an “active” and valued member of the campus community, who made a “positive and lasting impact” at the university. He was on the dean’s list, was Student Government Vice President and a member of various other campus activities and clubs.

The media report indicates that the young man is the 18th person to die on the roads of Washington County, Pennsylvania, this year. According to the article, the young man was not wearing his seatbelt at the time of the crash, which authorities believe contributed to the severity of his injuries, compared to the driver, who was wearing her seatbelt.

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While the accident is still under investigation, and the specific causes are unknown; authorities, however, are not ruling out weather as a factor. The crash took place after snow fell, following a drop in temperature in the area. Authorities indicated that cold and snowy weather was a factor in various other recent accidents.

Seatbelts and Pennsylvania law

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention claims that motor vehicle crashes account for the leading cause of death for those age 30 and under. More than half of the over 33,000 people who died in 2009 in car accidents were not wearing their seat belts. For those who do not wear a seat belt, the chance of being ejected from a car is 30 times that of someone wearing a seat belt. Further, three in four people who are ejected from a vehicle during a crash end up losing their lives due to injuries.

It is easy to blame an accident victim, when learning of the decision not to wear a seat belt. While many believe that recovery is unlikely for those who did not wear a seat belt during a crash, many other factors, like road conditions, driver’s negligence and vehicle manufacturing defects can cause a car accident. Pennsylvania courts have held that failure to wear a seatbelt is inadmissible at trial.

If you have been a victim in a car accident, or if a loved one lost their life due to injuries from a motor vehicle crash, your case should be handled by an experienced personal injury and motor vehicle accident attorney. Contact us today to discuss your case.

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