A Texas man was in central court Wednesday on charges of recklessly endangering another person after he crashed a tractor-trailer into a home in Everett earlier this month.
Bilgunn Shijirbaatar, 24, of El Paso is currently being lodged in the Bedford County Correctional Facility in lieu of $7,500 straight bail on three counts of recklessly endangering another person.
Officer Stephen Kagarise of the Everett Borough Police Department said Shijirbaatar was the driver of a tractor-trailer that crashed into the the home at 628 West Main St. about 9 p.m. July 21.
Tpr. Paul Burns, a motor carrier enforcement officer with the Pennsylvania State Police, assisted with the investigation. He testified that dashboard camera footage showed Shijirbaatar was driving three to four miles per hour over the posted 25 mph speed limit as he entered the cal-de-sac at the end of West Main Street, and he failed to stop at a stop sign prior to striking the house.
“There was no brake usage — no hard brake usage,” Burns said about when Shijirbaatar’s rig passed the stop sign. “There wasn’t a sudden drop in speed. It just gradually slowed down.”
The owner of the home, Jeremy Decker, was watching a movie with his fiancee, Stephanie Baur, in the living room when the rig crashed through the front wall. Both were taken to UPMC Bedford for evaluation of minor injuries. The rubble from the crash also knocked the family’s pet pit bull unconscious.
“I was sitting on the couch, looking up vacations for us to go on and watching a movie. The next thing I know, a tractor-trailer is in our living room,” Baur said, describing her recollection of the evening during the hearing.
Burns said there was no indication Shijirbaatar intended to strike the house. He said he spoke with a passenger in the vehicle, a co-driver, who said Shijirbaatar was a “good guy.”
But Burns said the handling of the rig was not what would be expected of a typical driver. Assistant District Attorney Jonathan Thomas said that put Decker, Baur and the co-driver in the rig at a substantial risk of injury.
“He blows through a stop sign — nothing indicated he attempted to honor that,” Thomas said. “He then flew over the embankment and into the house. It was egregious conduct.”
Chief Public Defender Karen Hickey said the crash was a substantial accident, but argued it did not warrant criminal charges.
Hickey said Shijibaatar was only driving a few miles per hour over the speed limit, which she said wouldn’t not result in points on his license if he was stopped for speeding.
“He was not driving at a high rate of speed,” she said, also questioning the reliability and accuracy of the dashboard camera’s speedometer.
Hickey also cited Burns’ testimony that the truck’s speed dropped by 10 mph prior to striking the house during the seven seconds of video Burns was able to review.
Hickey also argued that Shijibaatar was driving with a commercial driver’s license learner’s permit, and that he was an out-of-state driver unfamiliar with the “unusual” street.
When asked his opinion of the cal-de-sac, Burns agreed that it was an “unusual” stretch of roadway, which includes a feeder ramp onto Route 30.
Thomas argued that drivers on a learner’s permit are held to the same standards as fully licensed drivers.
District Judge H. Cyril Bingham bound the charges to the Court of Common Pleas.
Hickey also argued for a reduction in bail, saying Shijibaatar did not have a criminal history and needed release in order to maintain his employment.
Thomas argued that Shijibaatar was a risk to not appear for future court proceedings because he lives in Texas and has no ties to Bedford County.
Bingham kept bail at $7,500 straight, saying it was a reasonable amount for three second-degree misdemeanor charges.