Friend Who Lets Friend Drive Drunk Charged

A man who picked up his drunken friend at the

police station and allegedly let him get behind the wheel was

charged with manslaughter Wednesday after the friend got into a deadly wreck.

Kenneth W. Powell, 39, was jailed on $50,000 bail.

Powell’s friend, Michael Pangle, plowed into a car July 22, killing himself and Ensign John Elliott, 22, a recent graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy. A friend in Elliott’s car was severely injured.

Powell was charged with manslaughter, vehicular homicide and aggravated assault by auto.

Authorities said Pangle, 37, had been charged with driving under the influence less than three hours before the accident. Pangle’s blood-alcohol level was twice the legal limit when he was arrested by state police. He was released into Powell’s custody.

Authorities said Powell returned Pangle to his truck, and Pangle got behind the wheel.

Powell is “very sad about what took place, but they have blamed the wrong person,” said Powell’s lawyer, Thomas DeMarco. “I don’t think he committed homicide. I don’t think he caused the death. It did not come from his hand.”

The lawyer added: “Picture the cruelty of the justice system that actually punishes somebody for trying to help a friend.”