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Clarion man charged in string of hit-and-run crashes

A Clarion County man accused of stealing his father's pickup truck drove as far as Scottdale, causing mayhem with a string of minor vehicle accidents, police said.

Police said sometime yesterday Dean Leroy Greenawalt Jr., 42, of 144 Penn Ave., Clarion, stole the 1996 light-blue Ford truck from his father, no name given, and traveled south, said arresting officer George Grippo of Mt. Pleasant police.

Grippo responded about 5 p.m. yesterday to a report of a hit-and-run, two-vehicle accident in the borough near the Leo and Sons Grille 31 restaurant.

The pickup struck a 1996 gold Pontiac Grand-Am driven by borough resident Kelly Burnsworth, 31, who had a child passenger, Grippo said. Burnsworth's vehicle sustained minor damage, and she and her child suffered minor injuries, Grippo said.

Greenawalt then traveled south on Route 819 toward the Summit Ridge Plaza in East Huntingdon, sideswiping a vehicle, Grippo said. He then continued south on Route 819, traveled off the road briefly and struck another vehicle at Beranek's Used Cars before continuing south, Grippo said.

The unidentified driver of the vehicle Greenawalt sideswiped followed him south toward an intersection near the plaza entrance, where Greenawalt's vehicle struck the rear of another vehicle stopped for a red light, Grippo said. Greenawalt then backed up and struck the front end of the vehicle he'd previously sideswiped before continuing south on Route 819, Grippo said.

As Greenawalt approached Scottdale, borough police notified Grippo that one of the tires on Greenawalt's truck blew out and he was traveling on a rim.

Borough police then pursued Greenawalt into Scottdale Cemetery, where he and a passenger, Kelly Zacharias, 36, of Strattanville, abandoned the truck and fled on foot toward Second Street, Grippo said.

Grippo, who pursued the two, placed Greenawalt under arrest, he said. Zacharias was transported to Excela Health Frick hospital in Mt. Pleasant for treatment of minor injuries, Grippo said.

"He (Greenawalt) admitted to me that he stole the vehicle and he was headed to Florida with (Zacharias)," Grippo said.

Greenawalt was arraigned before Night Court District Judge Lawrence Franzi on charges of receiving stolen property, accident involving damage to attended vehicle or property, driving while operating privilege suspended for DUI; duty to give information and/or render aid; two counts of recklessly endangering another person; and reckless driving and careless driving, Grippo said.

Greenawalt was then lodged in Westmoreland County Prison in lieu of $15,000 straight cash bond.

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