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SUV hits, kills man shoveling snow in Berkeley County

Driver, 17, charged with negligent homicide

Driver, 17, charged with negligent homicide

December 06, 2007|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - A 17-year-old boy was charged with negligent homicide after the vehicle he was driving ran off the road Wednesday and struck and killed a Berkeley County man who was shoveling snow outside of his house off Eagle School Road near Martinsburg, police said.

Robert "Bob" Penn, 69, of 144 Princeton St., was taken to City Hospital in Martinsburg where he was pronounced dead at 3:27 p.m, according to Jefferson and Berkeley county Medical Examiner Donald L. Shirley.

Penn's body was sent to Morgantown, W.Va., for an autopsy, Shirley said.

The boy provided investigators with California identification, but he did not have a driver's license, Sheriff W. Randy Smith said. The Dodge Durango he was driving displayed a Virginia license plate, and Smith said the boy was living in Berkeley County.

Police said the boy failed to maintain control of the vehicle he was driving and it left Princeton Street just south of Penn's home. It then clipped a neighbor's light pole, mailbox and newspaper boxes and continued onto Penn's property.

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Smith said he couldn't say exactly where the victim was shoveling snow when he was struck, but only a portion of the driveway appeared to be covered with snow minutes after the accident.

A broken snow shovel was visible beneath the vehicle. Penn was found lying on his back in front of a flower bed by Leon Taylor, a motorist who said he first noticed the mailbox damage while on his way home from Ranson, W.Va., where he works.

As Taylor drove past the home to Princeton Shoals subdivision, he noticed the SUV, which crashed into the front steps of Penn's house and the metal roof-covered porch after striking the victim. The victim's wife wasn't home, neighbors said.

Penn was legally blind and didn't go to work Wednesday because of the inclement weather, according to neighbors and a relative who lives nearby.

The sidewalk outside Penn's house was cleared of snow from the front steps to his work truck and along Princeton Street, which had been treated and cleared as police took measurements at the accident scene.

Taylor, visibly shaken by what he had seen, said Penn had a large gash on his chin and noted the victim was bleeding from the head, motionless and turning blue. He was wearing gray sweat pants and a light jacket, Penn said.

Taylor said he found the young man who was driving the SUV crouched down outside the vehicle and heard him plead for the victim's life to be spared.

Unaware of what happened, neighbor Judy Robertson of 128 Princeton St. arrived home to find that the destruction of her light pole next door to Penn's home also knocked out the electricity in her kitchen.

Robertson said Penn and his wife were "very friendly" neighbors and noted the victim worked all the time, despite his physical limitations.

"I give him credit," Robertson said.

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