Seneca Valley teacher Henry “Leo” Stefanacci waived a preliminary hearing Tuesday before District Justice Wayne Seibel in Evans City.
Stefanacci, 48, of Zelienople, is charged with driving under the influence and careless driving after a near fatal plunge into the Connoquenessing Creek.
A popular learning support teacher at Seneca Valley Middle School, Stefanacci was driving on Halstead Boulevard in Zelienople March 3 when he skidded off the road. His car landed upside down in the nearby creek.
Firefighters trained in water rescue pulled him from the vehicle after four teens driving on the road noticed a car overturned in the water and dialed 9-1-1. He was taken by medical helicopter to UPMC Presbyterian in Pittsburgh in critical condition.
According to the criminal compliant filed by Zelienople police April 10, a firefighter and paramedic noticed Stefanacci smelled strongly of alcohol when he was rescued from the water.
At the time of the crash, Stefanacci had a blood-alcohol level of 0.12, exceeding the state’s legal limit of 0.08 percent, according to investigators.
Stefanacci told Cranberry Patch he is deeply embarrassed by the charges and is leaning on family and friends for support during this tough time.
Noting it is a personnel matter, Seneca Valley declined comment on if the charges will affect Stefanacci’s position with the district.
Stefanacci is expected to make a full recovery, although getting there could take six months to a year.
Following Tuesday’s preliminary hearing, the teacher is set to be formally arraigned at 8:30 a.m. July 8 at the Butler County Court of Common Pleas.