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Motorist stabbed in Hometown

  • A line of police vehicles sit parked on the middle median of SR309 in front of the Hometown Wal-mart as they search the area for the hitchhiker.
    A line of police vehicles sit parked on the middle median of SR309 in front of the Hometown Wal-mart as they search the area for the hitchhiker.
Published July 02. 2012 05:03PM

A Good Samaritan was stabbed in the throat by a hitchhiker just before 8 p.m. yesterday in Hometown.

Rush Township Police Sgt. Duane Frederick said that the driver, Joseph Connell from Tamaqua, was traveling north on SR309 near the Murphy's Beer Distributor and All American Jeep, when he spotted a hitchhiker and pulled over to give the man a ride. A short distance later, he pulled into the entrance of the Wal-Mart plaza parking lot on Tide Road in Hometown.

Frederick said the hitchhiker told Connell he wanted to go farther north on SR309.

When the driver said he couldn't, the hitchhiker pulled out a knife and stabbed Connell in the neck. The hitchhiker then exited the vehicle and fled on foot in an unknown direction.

Frederick, who talked to the victim on the phone last night, reported he was in stable condition. Family members on Facebook said the stab wound just missed an artery.

The injured driver recalled seeing a police officer on the southbound side of the road a few minutes earlier.

Bleeding heavily, he was able to turn around and drive his gray Nissan Altima a half-mile south to seek help. He sounded the horn of his car as he pulled up to the officer and then told him what happened.

A PennStar helicopter landed alongside the Hometown Nursing and Rehabilitation Center to transport the driver to St. Luke's Hospital in Fountain Hill. Emergency responders said the driver lost consciousness and suffered cardiac arrest.

Paramedics could be seen working hard to restart his heart prior to the helicopter taking off.

Numerous police, including a state police helicopter out of Hazleton, took part in the massive manhunt for the hitchhiker.

Police, who have been studying the video from business and police cameras in Tamaqua and Hometown, describe the hitchhiker as a possible white male, five-foot, seven to 10 inches tall, with tan complexion, mustache, goatee, black hair and wearing blue jeans and a blue shirt. Anyone who may have seen a man fitting the description is asked to to call 911 immediately.

Responders, in addition to township police and state police, included police from Ryan Township, Tamaqua, Coaldale, Nesquehoning, Lansford, Weatherly, West Penn Township, the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Hometown Fire Company, Ryan Township Rescue Squad, Lehighton and Tamaqua ambulances and township fire police.

State police dogs, including a K-9 tracking dog named Alex, and her handler, Don Wilcox a K-9 specialist from Bethlehem, also responded.

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