81 year old McConnellsburg man charged with death of Chambersburg man in October vehicle crash

10 January 2024- An elderly McConnellsburg man is facing major charges after allegedly causing the death of a Chambersburg man in late 2023. Merle Gordon Hovis is charged with felony homicide by vehicle, felony accident involving death or injury while not licensed, misdemeanor involuntary manslaughter, and five traffic violations including driving without a license. Hovis is currently free on an unsecured bail of $50,000.

Just before 4pm on October 11th, 2023, Pennsylvania State Police were dispatched to a working vehicle accident near the intersection of Lincoln Way East and SR 30 in Todd Township, Fulton County. While en route, Troopers were informed that one of the drivers involved in the crash was already pronounced deceased.

The surviving driver was being treated in the back of the ambulance when Troopers arrived. Interviewing the man, police learned that his name was Merle Hovis of McConnellsburg. Hovis allegedly told police he was going up the mountain, eastbound on SR 30 to a bar at the top of it. The crash occurred part way up the mountain, but Hovis allegedly told police that he didn’t exactly know what happened because it all went so quick.

Troopers say that they believed Hovis may have been intoxicated but could not conduct field sobriety tests due to the severity of the crash. A blood test from a legal blood draw from Hovis later cleared of DUI charges, with it reportedly showing a .05% BAC. No drugs were found in Hovis’ system either, according to PSP.

Reconstruction of the crash began shortly after crews arrived on scene. Troopers say that the two car crash occurred as a 2008 Pontiac G6 driven by Hovis was traveling westbound on SR 30 towards Lincoln Way East. If this is true as per filings from PSP, this would contradict previous statements. As Hovis was taking a decline in the road, a 1999 Ford F-350 driven by William Ernest Scheffer of Chambersburg was traveling in the opposite direction.

Reconstruction crews say that Hovis tried to make the left hand turn onto LWE towards McConnellsburg but struck Scheffer’s truck with such force that the pickup overturned and ejected Scheffer from the driver’s side window. William Scheffer was pronounced deceased at the scene by responding EMTs.

PSP interviewed multiple witnesses who separately painted a similar picture to those working with reconstructing it.

When police began to investigate Merle Hovis’ driver’s license, they say they found that he had no license status, issue date, expiration date, or license class. This indicates he did not, and likely never did, have a Pennsylvania driver’s license.

William Scheffer was 61 years old at the time of his passing. Obituatries show he was a resident of Chambersburg but enjoyed numerous mechanical hobbies, including his work that had him travel through numerous South Central PA counties. He is survived by numerous family members, including a partner, son, and siblings.

Merle Hovis is free on an unsecured bail of $50,000. His preliminary hearing is set for January 17th.

Sources: Docket Number: MJ-39402-CR-0000004-2024, Incident No.: PA 2023-1332265