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Middleburg driver faces felony for alleged hit-and-run

Feb. 9—A Middleburg driver allegedly crashed into a New Berlin home, collapsing the chimney, and fled the scene on a late December evening, according to state police in Milton.

A warrant was issued for the arrest of Dennis Lee Morris Jr., 46, of Bowersox Road, Middleburg. After evading police for nearly six weeks, Morris was apprehended by police and arraigned in front of Mifflinburg District Judge Jeffrey Mensch on Jan. 21.

Morris was charged with a felony count of causing a catastrophe; four misdemeanors: two counts of recklessly endangering another person, accidents involving damage to vehicle/property and tampering with or fabricating physical evidence; and six summary counts. The charges were filed by state Trooper Patrick Kineston, of the Milton State Police Barracks, in Mensch's office.

Kineston reported he was dispatched at 10:23 p.m. Dec. 12 for a hit-and-run incident in which a vehicle struck a residence on Water Street in New Berlin.

The homeowner said she was in the kitchen when she heard a crash and a chair flew across the living room. When she went outside, the woman observed a dark truck crashed into the side of her home with debris all over it, police said.

The homeowner began yelling at the male driver, later identified as Morris, who allegedly placed the truck in reverse and fled the scene, traveling north. She said she heard a "flopping sound, which was consistent with a flat tire," police said.

The woman walked to the nearby American Legion and asked the bartender whether anyone had just left. The bartender said someone named Dennis, who lives two blocks away, had just left in a blue pickup truck, police said.

New Berlin Assistant Fire Chief Brandon Resseguie said he was able to visibly follow a debris trail from impact to where Morris lived. Resseguie and Sgt. Frederick Hetrick of the Buffalo Valley Regional Police Department found the vehicle at Morris's home. They observed Morris get into the vehicle, back out of his driveway and allegedly pull into an alley, police said.

At 11:17 p.m., Hetrick and Resseguie located the vehicle at an address on High Street in New Berlin, police said.

The owner of that property told police that Morris allegedly contacted him and asked to park his truck in the man's driveway for the night. The vehicle was found, but Morris was not there, police said.

The vehicle, registered in Morris's name, was a blue Chevrolet S10 pickup truck with damage to the front and a flat front right tire. It was parked in a driveway behind a garage and had fluids leading to it. There was also debris lying on the hood of the vehicle consistent with the debris observed at the original accident scene, police said.

Morris did not answer the door at his home after multiple knocking attempts by police. Police were unable to contact Morris via telephone, police said.

Kineston was unable to locate any active insurance on the vehicle. The vehicle was towed from the scene, police said.

The bartender of the American Legion told police that Morris had left the bar just before the crash occurred. Video surveillance was reviewed showing Morris leaving the bar alone, police said.

Morris was unable to be located for six weeks. After Morris was apprehended and arraigned on Jan. 21, bail was set at $15,000 unsecured. He is scheduled for a preliminary hearing at 10 a.m. Feb. 20 in front of Mensch.