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Charges filed in fatal accident

August 28, 2003|by DON AINES

chambersburg@herald-mail.com

A trail of leaking motor oil led Pennsylvania State Police to a man they allege was involved in an accident Sunday night in which the driver of the other vehicle subsequently died.

Ronald Higgs, 55, of Spring Run, Pa., died Monday at 8 p.m. in Hershey (Pa.) Medical Center where he had been flown by Life Lion helicopter following the Sunday night accident at 4994 Cumberland Highway.

Higgs was driving a white 1996 Chevy Astro van south at 9:10 p.m. Sunday when a northbound red 1989 Chevy truck crossed the center line and struck his vehicle, police allege.

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Higgs was thrown from the van, which had rolled over and gone into a field, according to the affidavit of probable cause.

On Tuesday night, Juan Eduardo Beltran-Gonzalez, 30, of 3673 Woodstock Road, Chambersburg, turned himself in at the state police barracks in Chambersburg.

He was arraigned before District Justice David Hawbaker on charges of accidents involving death or injury while not properly licensed, failure to give information and render aid, careless driving, not having a license, having an expired registration, not having insurance and a lane violation.

The accidents involving death or injury charge is a third-degree felony, conviction on which is punishable by up to seven years in prison. The other charges are summary traffic violations.

Police followed a trail of oil three-tenths of a mile north to a driveway where the truck had been parked, according to the affidavit. The truck had heavy damage to the driver's side, including the left front wheel.

Police said the truck was registered to Jose A. Orosco-Pulido of 204 High St., Apt. 6, Shippensburg, Pa. Police interviewed him and another man, Miguel Melgaredo, address unavailable. They told police a man named Eduardo had the truck and Monday morning told them he had been in an accident, but did not believe anyone had been injured, according to allegations in the affidavit.

Beltran-Gonzalez was read his Miranda rights Tuesday night by a Spanish-speaking trooper, the affidavit stated.

"He said he had problems with his brakes which caused his truck to go into the oncoming lane and struck another vehicle," the affidavit stated.

Beltran-Gonzalez also allegedly told officers he is an illegal alien from Mexico, did not have a driver's license and fled the scene because he was scared, according to police.

Beltran-Gonzalez was in Franklin County Prison Wednesday night on $50,000 bond. His preliminary hearing is scheduled for Tuesday, Sept. 2, in Franklin County Central Court, according to Hawbaker's office.

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