A 19-year-old Altoona man has been charged with causing an accident at the Northampton Crossings shopping center two months ago that became a hit and run when he allegedly left in a damaged pickup.
Keith Chester Lego is also charged with driving the pickup under the influence of marijuana and three kinds of antidepressants, driving with a suspended license, and driving the pickup without the consent of the owner -- his mother’s boyfriend whose address is in Forks Township.
The accident near Starbucks in the Lower Nazareth Township shopping center was on the afternoon of Nov. 7, a Wednesday and the day after Election Day. A criminal complaint was filed Dec. 11, and Lego was arraigned Wednesday and committed to Northampton County Prison.
The charges also say Lego admitted to driving the truck at the time of the crash and leaving the scene, and that the driver of the other car was injured. Lego was speeding and passing cars in the parking lot and caused the crash when he failed to stop at a stop sign, the charges say.
The complaint, filed by Colonial Regional Patrolman Jason Spirito, tells the following story:
- When Spirito arrived shortly after 1 p.m., he found a car on the curb and on the grass near Starbucks. The driver was injured and was being helped by an off-duty nurse who witnessed the crash. The complaint does not identify the driver, the extent of injuries or the kind of car.
- Witnesses said the other vehicle in the crash was a silver Dodge Ram -- it was a 2001 model -- with heavy front-end damage. It left the shopping center going north on nearby Route 33. County dispatch said another witness was following the truck and supplied police with the license plate number.
- The truck’s ownership came back to a man with an address on Forks Church Road in Forks Township. The complaint identifies the man as the boyfriend of Lego’s mother. Spirito later learned that state police had the truck and its driver -- Lego -- in custody.
- Spirito went to Easton Hospital, where Lego had been taken for his injuries (the complaint does not specify the injuries). The officer talked to Lego, who admitted he was driving the truck at the time of the crash. He also said he left the crash scene “because he wanted to get the truck back home.”
- Spirito noticed while talking to Lego that his pupils were “very small” and his eyes were red. He asked Lego if he had been drinking earlier. He said no. But when Spirito asked him if he was under the influence of any drugs, Lego said he smoked marijuana earlier in the day.
- Lego consented to having blood drawn for a DUI test. The complaint said Lego had three different kinds of antidepressants in his system, but the kinds of antidepressants are not specified.
Lego, whose address is listed as Sixth Avenue in Altoona, was charged with:
Accidents involving death or personal injury, two counts of driving under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance -- one for marijuana and one for the antidepressants, possession of a small amount of marijuana, possession of drug paraphernalia (a glass smoking pipe).
Also, accidents involving death or personal injury while not properly licensed, duty to give information and render aid, immediate notice of accident to police department, reckless driving, careless driving, driving while operating privilege is suspended or revoked, unauthorized use of automobiles and other vehicles, and stop signs and yield signs.
He was arraigned by District Judge Jackie Taschner of Palmer Township, who set bail at $25,000.