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Former UPMC doctor pleads guilty to DUI, killing another doctor in 2022 crash

In World
February 08, 2024

A former UPMC doctor accused of driving over the speed limit while under the influence and causing a fatal crash pleaded guilty to homicide by vehicle and DUI.

This guilty plea came exactly 18 months after the tragic crash that happened along Wexford Bayne Road in July 2022.

You may remember the video of this mangled blue Tesla. Joseph Yanta was behind the wheel, and Doug Rockacy was in the passenger seat. Both were UPMC doctors at the time and friends.

>> UPMC doctor killed in Pine Township crash; status of second victim unknown

Channel 11 reached out to UPMC about Yanta’s employment status with the hospital system and received a brief statement that said, “This individual is not currently employed by UPMC. We will not be commenting further.”

Yanta was supposed to have a motions hearing in January, but then his attorney, Michael Sherman, negotiated a plea deal. The Attorney General’s Office took over the case because of a conflict.

>> UPMC doctor charged with DUI, killing another doctor in July crash

“Every plea offer and agreement is determined on a case-by-case basis and involves careful consideration of the facts and evidence, the law, and the victim’s families’ input and concerns,” said Office of Pennsylvania Attorney General Michelle A. Henry Press Secretary Brett Hambright.

Yanta pleaded guilty to homicide by vehicle and DUI. The involuntary manslaughter charge was dropped.

Police say Yanta was driving more than 100 miles per hour just prior to the crash and his blood alcohol level was more than twice the legal limit within two hours following the crash. People who were with Rockacy and Yanta that day said they were at a golf outing all day at Shannopin Country Club. Then, police say they went to Cenci’s Pizza in Wexford. Surveillance video shows they continued drinking there.

Days after the crash a college fund was created for Rockacy’s two kids. So far, it’s raised nearly $100,000.

Yanta is currently in the Allegheny County Jail where he’ll spend one to two years followed by 18 months of probation.

Yanta’s attorney Michael Sherman issued the following statement to Channel 11:

“Dr. Yanta’s heart bleeds for the Rockacy family. Doug Rockacy was a great friend and mentor to Dr. Yanta. Dr. Yanta hopes one day that he can return to practicing emergency medicine. By doing so, he will carry Doug’s legacy and teaching with him. Hopefully, future generations of patients will benefit from Doug’s wisdom, teaching and wise counsel.”


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