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Seneca Valley Teacher Charged with DUI Waives Preliminary Hearing

Leo Stefanacci nearly drowned after his car plunged into the Connoquenessing Creek.

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.

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Jim Bilka May 07, 2013 at 09:53 PM
I hope we all have the sense to evaluate our educators by their strengths, not their lack of weaknesses?
Giacomo May 08, 2013 at 12:49 PM
Well put, Jim. I hope Leo harnesses the energy of his "deep embarrassment" and channels it into the strength needed to make the right choices in life. He is a well liked teacher at SV, and it would be great if he could also be a role model for the kids with whom he has frequent contact.
Mark A. May 08, 2013 at 05:36 PM
Unfortunately, deep embarrassment is rarely enough to combat the lure of substance abuse. To allow him to avoid the consequences would be to enable him in his disease. I would hope a full treatment program and ongoing proof of sobriety would be required before he is allowed back in the classroom.
jim mang May 08, 2013 at 11:32 PM
do the crime do the time. i think that all teachers should be subject to drug and alcohol testing. several of my seneca teachers had serious red eyes in the mornings. i have to be tested for my job and its not tax payer funded or working with children .
Cranberry Resident May 09, 2013 at 03:16 AM
I totally agree Mark A. When someone gets a DUI it should shock them into reality that they might have a problem, but when he got his second DUI and almost drowned, there is no doubt that he has a problem. He might be a great teacher, but he needs to get his life together before he is allowed back into the position of teaching our kids!
mari0 doe May 09, 2013 at 05:44 PM
A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable, but more useful than a life spent doing nothing.(George Bernard Shaw) the man is a very good teacher and never ever let his social life intertwine with his teaching. matter fact he encourages kind to do good in life and try to be the best. thats all im saying
Chris Smith May 10, 2013 at 03:04 PM
mari0 doe - maybe you should have taken an English class instead of math.

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