DUI Driver Sent to Prison for Crash that Killed Passenger

MONTROSE, Pa. -- It was an emotional day in court for loved ones of Andrew Mazza. The 23-year-old man was killed in a crash in Susquehanna County more than two years ago.

On Wednesday, a judge sentenced Mazza's friend for the deadly wreck.

Andrew Mazza's name will live on near Carbondale at the health clinic named for him.

His family told a judge in Susquehanna County that the driver who caused Mazza's death deserved the harshest sentence possible.

The judge chose to sentence Jonathan Yacinovich of Waymart to between nine months and 23 months in prison. Yacinovich was taken to jail in Susquehanna County to start a sentence of at least nine months for homicide by vehicle and DUI.

Yacinovich admits he is to blame for a deadly crash in February 2016 near Gibson. One passenger survived, but another did not.

"The fact that he's accepted responsibility here today and he's expressed his condolences to the family, they can at least get some comfort from that, close this chapter and move forward in some fashion," said defense attorney Corey Kolcharno.

Mazza was just 23 years old when he died in the crash. Mazza and Yacinovich were friends, out celebrating Yacinovich's birthday.

The tires on Yacinovich's car were bald and it slid into a creek upside down. A memorial is now at the spot where Mazza drowned, trapped inside his friend's car.

"I tried to break the windows. I couldn't break the windows because they were underwater so I went to someone's house and had them call 911," Yacinovich said.

As if it wasn't painful enough for friends and family to lose Mazza in February 2016. Yacinovich, the driver, told investigators it was Mazza behind the wheel. Now we know it was Yacinovich.

He pleaded guilty and has been sentenced to at least nine months behind bars and Mazza's family say they've been given a life sentence without Andrew.

During sentencing, Mazza's father Phillip told the judge, "Andrew deserved to be helped out of that car, not left alone. He deserved not to be lied about after losing his life."

Prosecutors hope this is the end of Yacinovich's run-ins with the law.

"If he's accepting of that and of what he's done and responsibility for that, I'm hopeful," said Susquehanna County District Attorney Marion O'Malley. "I'm hopeful we never see him in the criminal justice system again, and I think the family feels the same way."

Before the deadly crash, Yacinovich was charged with manslaughter in Wayne County in a case that also involved alcohol, but the charges were never pursued after a jury found his codefendant not guilty.

Yacinovich told the Mazza family he's truly sorry for what he's done.

4 comments

    • lickerblisters

      No Mark, not life. We’ve all partied. We’ve all made bad decisions. But not life. Nine months is too little but life incarceration is uncalled for. I’m sure the deceased is taking some responsibility for willingly putting himself in that lethal situation.

  • peatermoss

    He’s only sorry that he didn’t get away with his story that Andrew was driving.
    DUI laws are lax due to the fact that prosecutors don’t want a harsh penalty, if and when they get involved in an accident, and are intoxicated.

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