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Child endangerment added to hit-run charges

| Tuesday, April 24, 2012, 1:20 p.m.

A Latrobe mother who police say was involved in two hit-and-run crashes within minutes of each other is being charged with child endangerment because her 10-year-old son was in the car with her.

Amber Marie Barkhamer, 36, of 2146 Lincoln Ave., is charged with endangering the welfare of children, accidents involving personal injury, reckless driving and related charges because police say she was involved in two hit-and-run accidents in Latrobe over a span of minutes in August.

On Aug. 23, police were dispatched to the intersection of Ligonier and James streets in Latrobe for a vehicle accident. Upon arrival, police found a vehicle with severe front-end damage and a driver with minor injuries, according to a criminal complaint filed before Unity District Judge Michael Mahady. The driver, who was treated on the scene and taken to Excela Health Latrobe Hospital, told Latrobe police Officer Robert Derk that she was driving south on Ligonier Street when a white car being driven by a woman in her late 30s -- with a passenger who she believed to be about an 8-year-old boy -- drove through a stop sign at the intersection of Ligonier and James streets and into the path of her vehicle.

The driver said her vehicle hit the passenger side of the white car and after impact, the driver of the white vehicle "put her car into reverse and stepped on the gas, causing the tires to spin," the complaint said. "She then put the vehicle in drive and drove off at a high rate of speed."

While at the scene, Derk received a call for another crash at the nearby intersection of Lincoln Avenue and James Street, the complaint said. After arriving at the second accident scene, another driver, Magan Counselman, told Derk that she was stopped at the intersection when she was struck from behind by a white car driven by a woman in her late 30s or early 40s with a passenger who appeared to be a boy between the ages of 8 and 10, the report said.

"Counselman stated that the driver (of the white car) ... told her to pull into the parking lot of the Sunoco station so that they could exchange information," the complaint said. "Counselman did as requested. However, the white vehicle turned left onto James Street and sped off at a high rate of speed."

According to the complaint, Derk was able to identify Barkhamer as a person of interest. He then made contact with Barkhamer, who admitted she was driving her white Pontiac Grand Prix in both of the crashes. Barkhamer told Derk that she struck the rear bumper of Counselman's vehicle and "became scared because she did not have insurance on her vehicle," the complaint said.

Barkhamer also confessed that she intentionally ran the stop sign at the intersection of Ligonier and James streets where her car was struck by another vehicle, the complaint said. Barkhamer also said that her 10-year-old son was in the front passenger seat during both crashes.

A preliminary hearing is scheduled before Mahady on Nov. 14.

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