State Rep. Matthew Dowling may have suffered a medical issue just before he was seriously injured in a single-vehicle crash in Lancaster County last week.
The Fayette County legislator was traveling east on Newport Road in Upper Leacock Township shortly before 7 p.m. Oct. 6 when his SUV left the road and traveled through a field, plowing into several wire fences and ultimately striking a tree, East Lampeter Township police Lt. Rob Eachus said Friday.
Eachus said they do not believe Dowling was impaired or distracted before the crash, and they do not plan to file any charges or citations.
Eachus said Dowling never attempted to use the brakes after his SUV drove off the roadway and traveled 100 yards in the field before striking the tree head-on, leading to the suspicions that he suffered a medical problem. Speed was not a factor in the crash and there were no mechanical problems detected with the vehicle, Eachus said. Dowling was the only person in the SUV, he said.
“There may be a medical issue that occurred while the vehicle was in operation, which would account for the lack of braking,” Eachus said without elaborating on the specifics of the possible health problem.
Photographs posted on the Upper Leacock Fire Company’s Facebook page show Dowling’s SUV sustained major damage to its front end and engine compartment after striking the tree. The fire department posted that the driver was trapped in the vehicle and taken by ambulance to a local hospital.
A receptionist at Lancaster General Hospital said Friday that Dowling, 36, of Uniontown, remains in the trauma unit, but she could not release additional information on his condition.
The East Lampeter Township Police Department, a regional police force that patrols Upper Leacock Township and responded to the crash, has closed the investigation, Eachus said.
It is believed Dowling was on his way to attend an informal GOP caucus retreat in Lancaster when he crashed. Since then, well-wishers have being offering messages of encouragement for the three-term Republican lawmaker. House GOP spokesman Jason Gottesman said he had no additional details on Dowling’s condition or the incident.
“Our focus is on supporting Rep. Dowling, his family, and his constituents in whatever way we can as he continues to progress toward recovery,” Gottesman said.
Dowling’s House district includes southern Fayette County and southwestern Somerset County. He was elected to office in 2016.