Alleged hit-and-run driver bound over on additional charges

Mar. 15—A driver charged with leaving the scene of a fatality accident Jan. 8 on West Seventh Street in Joplin waived a preliminary hearing this week on additional charges stemming from a prior hit-and-run collision Sept. 26 in Joplin.

Ruben R. Blanco, 49, waived the hearing Wednesday in Jasper County Circuit Court on a felony count of leaving the scene of an accident involving property damage in excess of $1,000 and misdemeanor counts of driving while revoked, operating a vehicle in a careless and imprudent manner and driving with no insurance.

Police investigating the Jan. 8 crash that claimed the life of 55-year-old pedestrian Eva M. Havelock traced debris found at the crash scene to a vehicle owned by Blanco and made contact with him leading to his arrest in that case.

In the course of speaking with the suspect, investigators asked about the prior accident at 9th Street and Byers Avenue where the same Ford Explorer had struck another vehicle and fled. Blanco allegedly admitted having been driving the vehicle at the time and fleeing the scene because he had a suspended license, according to a probable-cause affidavit.

The court has set March 25 for the defendant's initial appearance in a trial division on the charges from the September collision.

Jeff Lehr is a reporter for The Joplin Globe.