Driver in ’21 DUI accident that caused severe injuries jailed

The impaired driver who caused a head-on collision on U.S. 522 in September of 2021, resulting in life-threatening injuries to the other driver, has been jailed for violating the terms of his home confinement.

Matthew S. Merki, 36, of Berkeley Springs was incarcerated last Wednesday, August 23 after failing a drug screen conducted by a special deputy who was supervising Merki’s home confinement.

Merki had been sentenced to one year of jail, to be served on home confinement, in March of this year after pleading guilty to DUI, second offense – the only charge that remained from multiple charges related to the 2021 accident.

According to court records, Special Deputy A.R. Athey visited Merki’s residence on Wilkes Street on August 23 shortly after 10 a.m. and received no answer to his knock on the door. After checking the GPS location of the home confinement monitor, Athey found Merki was in the residence and he made contact with him.

When Athey requested a urine sample to complete a drug screen, Merki allegedly told the officer he would fail the screening because he had taken a Suboxone strip supplied by a friend until his pain medication could be refilled, court records say.

Test results did confirm use of Suboxone, Athey reported. Merki was then placed under arrest and is in custody at the Eastern Regional Jail.

In an original police complaint against Merki in September 2021, police reportedly found drug paraphernalia in the truck that Merki was driving, and received toxicology reports from the hospital that Merki had tested positive for methadone and amphetamines. Witnesses reported that Merki’s vehicle was southbound on Hancock Road/U.S. 522 and served into oncoming traffic once before doing it a second time and striking a northbound pickup truck head on.

The accident sent the driver of that truck to Connemaugh Memorial Hospital in Altoona, Pa. for treatment of severe and life-threatening injuries. Merki was also hospitalized for his injuries.