Westmoreland DA: Crash involving county vehicle was 'minor'

Jan. 7—Westmoreland County District Attorney Nicole Ziccarelli on Friday said a crash involving her government take-home vehicle was "minor" and caused by weather conditions.

Ziccarelli, the first-term Republican from Lower Burrell, was driving the SUV on a snow- and sleet-covered road in Murrysville shortly after 3:30 a.m. Dec. 18 on Cherry Drive when she ran over a small tree, drove onto a private driveway and crashed into a parked vehicle, police said.

The SUV's airbags were deployed, and it was towed from the scene. No injuries were reported.

The district attorney claimed road conditions left her unable to stop at a traffic sign, causing her to skid onto private property, according to the police report.

"Ziccarelli was following her friend in a separate vehicle from Treeline Drive to Twelve Oaks Court. Ziccarelli was with her friend due to the sudden loss of her friend's mother," the report said.

Ziccarelli, 41, released a statement about the incident Friday in response to questions from the


"As the chief law enforcement officer in the county, I am expected and prepared to respond to any serious police incident at any given time in my county vehicle, which contains my county equipment. The time I spent with a very close family friend in their time of grief and mourning does not preclude me from the performance of my job and responsibility to this office," she said in an emailed statement.

Murrysville police Capt. Tom Kusinsky said the investigation found no evidence of criminal behavior.

"Ms. Ziccarelli showed no signs of impairment, was completely respectful and cooperative with both officers on scene. The officers are both trained in detection of impairment and would have handled any situation presented to them accordingly," Kusinsky said.

At the time of the crash, Ziccarelli was driving one of about 50 county take-home vehicles. Public Works Director Greg McCloskey confirmed that staffers in public safety-related jobs, including employees of the sheriff's department, park police, 911, coroner and district attorney's office, are assigned take-home vehicles.

McCloskey did not release any other details when asked about Ziccarelli's crash.

According to the county's fleet policy, employees involved in crashes while driving government vehicles are required to file prompt reports.

County officials confirmed a report was filed late last month but did not respond to requests to make Ziccarelli's report public or release damage estimates for the vehicle.

The county's policy prohibits county commissioners from having vehicles assigned to them for permanent use but allows other employees to use them for commuting from home to work and to conduct county business. It prohibits the use of county-owned vehicles for all but "de minimis" personal use.

De minimis personal use is described in the county policy as "a stop at convenience store in the course of commute; a small personal detour while on business, such as driving to lunch while out of the office on business; or infrequent commuting in employer vehicle."