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Bethel Twp. driver narrowly misses hitting police car, officer says

| Tuesday, Dec. 17, 2013, 1:01 a.m.

A Bethel Township man accused of having his pickup's lights turned off when racing toward an oncoming patrol car has been charged with drunken driving for the second time since 2009.

Parks police allege Justin Thomas Hagofsky, 36, of Grantz Hollow Road, drove his Toyota Tundra pickup off the 1100 block of Coulter Lane, through an electric cattle fence, down a hill and into a pasture just before 1 a.m. Thursday.

Police say he walked to a house and started knocking on the windows before the homeowners told him they were calling police.

Hagofsky apparently walked back to his truck and succeeded in pulling back onto Coulter Road near Airport Road.

Police allege he failed to turn his truck lights on while driving out of the field and turning onto Airport Road.

That's where the darkened pickup nearly collided with a Parks police car driven in the opposite direction by Sgt. John Arce.

“He almost hit me,” Arce said on Monday.

Arce and Kiski Township Officer Christopher Disciscio turned around to follow the pickup on the snow-covered country road.

Although the gray pickup's lights weren't on and it was snowing, Arce said he could easily spot sparks being emitted from something that was hanging from the truck.Officers decided to wait to pull the truck over at the intersection of Airport Road and Route 66 because the pavement was cleared of snow.

When Hagofsky reached the intersection and put on his left turn signal, Arce and Disciscio turned on their vehicle sirens and lights.Instead of stopping, the pickup accelerated, and police followed on Dime Road (Alternate Route 66), Arce said.

By then, a Vandergrift officer had joined the pursuit.

Hagofsky finally pulled over near the intersection with Hungry Hollow Road, but despite police yelling at him, Hagofsky refused to get out or unlock the door.

According to Arce, Hagofsky didn't put the truck's transmission into park until Disciscio used a flashlight to smash a window.

Police said Hagofsky had a “confused and blank stare” when he was pulled from the truck, placed on the ground and handcuffed.

Police said Hagofsky was placed against a police car to be searched but turned around and tried to walk away.

Police said he fell asleep in the back of the police car on the trip to the station.

Inside the station, he refused to take a chemical test and said his head was hurt, police said.

Arce said medics didn't find a problem, but Hagofsky was “confrontational and extremely verbal” toward officers.

Hagofsky was arraigned and released after posting $15,000 bond pending a preliminary hearing set for Feb. 12 in Leechburg.

In addition to drunken driving, Hagofsky is charged with careless and reckless driving, fleeing and eluding, resisting arrest and related charges.

Records show he pleaded to drunken driving in Westmoreland County Court in 2009.

He was sentenced to intermediate punishment for six months with two months of electronic monitoring.

He was ordered to attend an alcohol highway safety school, and his license was suspended for a year.

Chuck Biedka is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-226-4711 or cbiedka@tribweb.com.

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