Judge survives wreck, makes new buddies

It was a close call last week for Family Court Administrative Judge Kevin Dougherty,  who’s sore but doing fine after a one-car accident that demolished the city-owned Ford Crown Victoria he was driving.

The judge was traveling on the Pennsylvania Turnpike, headed to a conference in Pittsburgh, when he swerved somewhere in Somerset County to avoid a car that was fishtailing in the driving snowstorm.

JFamily Court Judge Kevin Dougherty

“I bailed to the left, then lost control,” he says. “I did several three-sixties then crashed into the median. It was a blessing at that moment that no cars behind me were close enough to hit me.”

The Crown Vic didn't survive the wreck but Dougherty suffered only bangs and bruises, which he says he didn’t feel until hours later.

“I think the adrenaline kept me from feeling anything,” he says.

The silver lining of this miserable snow cloud, he says, is that it brought him into contact with many kind Pennsylvanians: the Good Samaritan who helped him get the smashed car off the road; the friendly flatbed operator that hauled the car to a garage in Breezewood; the state trooper who gave him a lift to a car-rental agency; and some businessmen with whom he wound up sharing the final, 20-mile leg of his journey to the conference. 

“I had just gotten the last car available at the rental agency,” he says, when the men, involved in an accident similar to Dougherty’s, came in, needing a vehicle to drive to Pittsburgh.

“We were in the middle of nowhere in Bedford County. I had no idea where I was. I said, 'If you give me directions to Pittsburgh, you can ride with me."

So they piled in and he dropped them in the city before continuing on to the conference. 

“I met some really great people," he says. "I'd rather have met them in a bar at the conference, but that’s the way it is.”