Following a serious automobile accident earlier this month, state Rep. Matthew Dowling has asked to be placed on official leave so he can focus on his recovery.

In a press release issued on Monday, Dowling, R-Uniontown, said he made the request as the House returns to sessions from through Wednesday this week.

“While remote voting on bills is an option that I plan to use in the future, right now I need to focus my energy on healing from my injuries,” Dowling said. “I look forward to returning to my voting duties as soon as possible.”

Dowling was traveling alone on Newport Road in Upper Leacock Township in Lancaster County 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 hitting a tree, according to East Lampeter Township Police.

The police said they do not believe Dowling was impaired or distracted before the crash, and they do not plan to file any charges or citations.

Police said Dowling never tried 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 as speed was not a factor in the crash and no mechanical problems were detected with the vehicle.

“First, my family and I are so grateful for the all the prayers and support we have received over the last two and a half weeks,” Dowling said in the statement. “I am equally grateful to my staff for their continued hard work to ensure the needs of 51st District residents are being met as usual. If you need anything, please don’t hesitate to contact us.”

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.

Dowling’s House district includes southern Fayette County and southwestern Somerset County. He was elected to office in 2016.

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