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Lansford man faces numerous charges

Published May 19. 2012 09:01AM

Neil Kennedy, 54, of 10 W. Bertsch St., Lansford, faces charges as a result of an incident which occurred on November 26, 2011 at 7:45 p.m. at Patterson and Coal streets. Charges of two counts of driving under the influence, careless driving, traffic-control signals, driving on right side of roadway, and driving on roadways laned for traffic were filed by Officer Jason Helmer.

Kennedy also faces charges from another incident which took place on Feb. 7, 2012 at 5:40 p.m. on W. Ridge Street. Charges of DUI, accidents involving unattended vehicle or property, and careless driving were also filed by Officer Helmer.

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

Helmer was dispatched to the liquor store at 46 W. Ridge St. for a motor vehicle hit-and-run.

He spoke with a store employee, Joann Thomas, who said a male came into the store and told her a black SUV had hit her car and left. The man gave her the license number.

Helmer saw that the rear bumper of Thomas' car was damaged, and there were black transfer marks. He checked the license number given to Thomas, and found the vehicle belonged to Kennedy. Police went to Kennedy's house, only to learn from the Carbon County Communications Center that he had returned to the liquor store.

They went back there and spoke with Kennedy, who said he was unaware he had hit Thomas' car. Kennedy said he had had to leave because he had forgotten his debit card at home, and needed it to make a purchase at the store.

While speaking with Kennedy, Helmer noticed the man's breath smelled of alcohol and that his eyes were red and glassy. Kennedy denied drinking, but said he was prescribed Oxycontin and Atavan.

Kennedy submitted to field sobriety tests, which revealed poor balance and coordination. He was arrested and taken to St. Lukes Miners Memorial Hospital, Coaldale, where a blood test was taken. The test revealed Kennedy had a 0.07 percent blood alcohol level. A toxicology screening showed negative results.

That same night, Helmer was driving the cruiser on West Patterson Street, near Turkey hill, when he saw a black SUV trying to turn right onto Patterson from Coal Street. The vehicle made an extremely wide turn, entering the oncoming lane. It then swerved back into the right lane and continued east on Patterson.

Helmer got behind the vehicle, which had drifted onto the shoulder of the street, coming within inches of parked vehicles. As the SUV approached a steady red signal on Patterson and Springgarden, the driver drifted into the intersection before stopping.

Helmer stopped the SUV, The driver, identified as Kennedy, put the vehicle in reverse, and ignored verbal commands to put it into park and to shut it off.

Kennedy presented a blank stare and appeared disoriented. As Helmer spoke with him, he smelled a strong odor of alcohol on his breath, and that his speech was slurred and his eyes red and glassy.

Kennedy told Helmer he had had two cans of beer.

Kennedy got out of the SUV, staggering, and could not stand without assistance. He was taken to St. Lukes Miners Memorial Hospital, Coaldale, for blood alcohol tests.

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