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Police charge driver with DUI in death of girl, 7

Pittsburgh police charged a Greene County man in the death of a 7-year-old girl in a Saturday night head-on collision on the South Side while he was allegedly driving drunk.

Travis Isiminger, 23, of Holbrook, was arraigned Sunday night on 13 charges, including homicide by vehicle while DUI, reckless endangerment, reckless driving while DUI, aggravated assault while DUI and speeding.

Bail was denied, and he is being lodged at the Allegheny County Jail. A hearing has been set for Friday.

The girl, who was traveling with her mother and sister in another vehicle, was identified by the Allegheny County medical examiner’s office as Lexa Cleland of South Park.

The child’s name was initially withheld by authorities while her mother, Nicole Cleland, 38, underwent surgery at UPMC Mercy.

Lexa died at 11:12 p.m. in the emergency room of Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC, less than an hour after the 10:23 p.m. crash in the 3100 block of East Carson Street.

An autopsy showed that she died from head and neck injuries.

A second child in the car, Kathleen Cleland, 11 months, was taken to Children’s with minor injuries. Both girls were properly restrained in their car seats.

According to the police criminal complaint, police responded Saturday night to reports of a major car crash between a Ford Mustang and a Toyota Camry on East Carson Street.

Witnesses at the scene told police the driver of the Mustang had run away from the scene. They learned the man had been spotted near the Department of Homeland Security building, and officers checking the perimeter of the building met a Homeland Security officer who was leading Mr. Isiminger toward them.

According to the complaint, Mr. Isiminger appeared intoxicated and was combative toward officers attempting to handcuff him.

He was taken to the Special Deployment Division, where he underwent field sobriety tests and blew a 0.224 and a 0.219 in breath tests. Mr. Isiminger told police that had about three liters of beer at the Hofbrauhaus in SouthSide Works with friends, then got into his car and headed east on East Carson Street.

He said he saw the Toyota Camry approaching from the other direction, and said his car was over the yellow line and that he believed that the other car was over the yellow line as well.

He told police he was driving 35 to 40 miles per hour at the time of the collision. The police criminal complaint said the Mustang’s speedometer showed the needle stuck between 62 and 64 miles per hour.

After the two vehicles collided, Mr. Isiminger told police he panicked and walked from the scene.

Pittsburgh homicide detectives and accident investigators are handling the case.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Sergeant Dan Connolly of the Collision Investigations Unit at 412-937-3051.

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