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Summit Hill man in trouble

Published April 01. 2010 05:00PM

A Summit Hill man faces driving under the influence, assault and other charges after allegedly being involved in a hit-and-run in Coaldale on March 20.

Joseph A. Cheehan, 41, of 322 W. Ludlow St., was charged by officer Charles Andrew Blesse with unlawful possession of a controlled substance; possession of a small amount of marijuana; possession of drug paraphernalia; failing duty to give information and render aid; failing to immediately notify police of an accident; driving under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance; driving on the wrong side of the road; reckless driving; involved in an accident involving damage to an unattended vehicle or property; simple assault; harassment and careless driving.

According to an affidavit of probable cause, here's what happened:

At 8:16 p.m., Blesse was dispatched to 9 W. Moser Ave. for a hit-and-run complaint. The complainant, a Joyce McHugh, gave him a license number that came back to Cheehan. Blesse tried to find the vehicle while officer Talanca went to the scene. McHugh said a blue Jeep Liberty with that license number struck the driver's side front of her vehicle with the driver's side of the Jeep, pushing her car about 10 feet back.

McHugh said she came out of her house and saw a male in the Jeep who appeared to be trying to leave the scene. McHugh stood in front of the jeep so he couldn't leave. She asked the driver several times for information and his car keys so he couldn't leave and she could call 911.

She said the driver finally got out of the vehicle and said "don't call the police because I don't want to get a DUI."

McHugh said that as he talked, she could smell alcohol on him and his speech was slurred. The driver then went into his wallet and pulled out his credit card and stated several times "I will pay for your car to get fixed, just don't call the police because I don't want a DUI."

The driver then pulled his keys out of his pocket after several requests from McHugh so he could not leave. She grabbed them from him and started to run down the alley to call for help. The driver chased after her, caught her and grabbed her wrist and twisted it, demanding his keys. After realizing it was his house keys she had, he ran back to his vehicle and fled. McHugh was treated at St. Luke's Miners Memorial Hospital, Coaldale, for a sprained wrist from the incident.

Police found the jeep at Costello's Restaurant with no one in it. Both officers checked the area, but could not find the driver. The vehicle, with heavy front end damage, was towed and impounded. On March 21, officer Todd Weiss was getting gasoline when Cheehan asked to speak with him about an accident he was involved in the night before. Weiss referred him to Blesse.

Blesse spoke with Cheehan, who said he was driving down the alleyway and sneezed and struck McHugh's car and then left the scene and walked home because he was tired. Cheehan asked if he could get his car from Kutz' Towing. Blesse said yes. While at Kutz' garage, Cheehan was asked if it would be OK if Blesse searched his vehicle before he took it. Cheehan consented.

Blesse found a bag of marijuana and a plastic container used for storing the drug.

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