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Charge added against driver accused of hit-and-run in Jefferson Township

Donovan M. Philpot

CHICORA — The driver involved in a hit-and-run crash with a stolen vehicle in Jefferson Township last month saw a charge added to his case at a preliminary hearing Tuesday, Dec. 5.

Donovan M. Philpot, 21, appeared before District Judge Lewis Stoughton regarding charges of felony theft, misdemeanor accidents involving property damage, and summaries driving without a license and driving with a suspended license following the Nov. 27 crash near the intersection of Bonniebrook and Great Belt roads.

State police located Philpot a day later, after asking the public for assistance.

Stoughton approved the addition of one count of unauthorized use of a motor vehicle after hearing testimony from four witnesses, including Mary Yurek, whose vehicle was rear-ended by Philpot’s vehicle.

Yurek said she noticed a Buick Verano behind her as she approached the intersection on Bonniebrook Road around 8 a.m. on Nov. 27.

She said the vehicle was weaving in and out of the traffic lane and eventually rear-ended her vehicle.

“It pushed my vehicle off the road into the grass,” she said.

Yurek indicated the driver, later identified as Philpot, pulled over and asked if she was hurt. Both drivers were uninjured.

“I asked him what happened. He said he dropped his cellphone. I said I didn’t believe that because I saw him driving erratically,” she said.

Philpot provided no insurance information, according to Yurek, only presenting the vehicle’s sale agreement. Yurek said she also took a picture of the Buick’s license plate.

She testified that Philpot told her he would pull his vehicle off the side of the road, but drove away.

Philpot’s mother, Elka, told the court her son had been living at home and was instructed not to drive the Buick, which was bought for her by a friend.

Henry Walborn later confirmed to the court he bought the car for Elka to drive to work and allowed her to make payments on it. He told Elka he did not want Philpot behind the wheel.

“I didn’t want him to go out and get into trouble with it,” he said.

According to Elka, she noticed the car missing from her driveway in Center Township around 6:40 a.m. Nov. 27 and called her son, who indicated he was returning it.

The vehicle was not returned, Elka said. Investigating trooper Martin Mihelic said it was found Nov. 28 in a Butler City park.

Assistant district attorney Dave Beichner requested a charge of unauthorized use of a motor vehicle be added to Philpot’s charges. Regarding Philpot’s bond, he asked Stoughton to consider the serious nature of the charges and the fact that Philpot was on probation when the crash occurred.

Defense attorney James Spriestersbach asked Stoughton to drop all charges, arguing Walborn never told Philpot directly he was denied access to the vehicle.

Stoughton moved all the charges forward to the Court of Common Pleas, and kept Philpot’s bond set at $250,000. He remains in Butler County Prison.

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