Hearing postponed for man charged with homicide by vehicle in 7-year-old boy's death

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LAWRENCE COUNTY, Pa. - A hearing for a man accused of being under the influence of drugs when he drove a truck into the front yard of a Lawrence County home last month and killed a 7-year-old-boy was postponed Tuesday because the man is in the hospital.

In November, police charged Virgil Coonfare, 66, with homicide by vehicle while under the influence, aggravated assault by vehicle while driving under the influence and driving under the influence.

He is accused of killing Octavius Stone, 7, and severely injuring Ozzy Velez, 9, as they played in a front yard on Winslow Avenue, according to a criminal complaint filed against Coonfare.

Channel 11’s Amy Marcinkiewicz confirmed Coonfare is in the hospital, but because of privacy reasons, specifics weren’t released.

Coonfare’s attorney said another reason the hearing was postponed is because the toxicology test results haven’t come back yet.

Autopsy results show Octavius died of blunt-force trauma to the chest, county Deputy Coroner Richard Johnson said. Ozzy was flown to UPMC Children's Hospital in Lawrenceville, police said.

A state police trooper trained in drug recognition determined Coonfare was under the influence of a depressant and a narcotic painkiller, the complaint said.

Police believe Coonfare was driving northwest on Stanton Avenue when he tried to turn west onto Winslow about 2:15 p.m. He drove onto the sidewalk on Winslow, and then up an embankment and through the front yards of two homes, police said.

He hit the children around the front steps of a home on Winslow Avenue, police said.

When officers arrived, Coonfare was only wearing one shoe and couldn’t walk straight, the complaint said.

He failed field sobriety tests before police took him to Jameson Hospital for further testing.

“I’m terribly sorry. I’ve got grandchildren at home,” Coonfare said as he was taken into custody.

A new court date was set Tuesday for Feb. 7.

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