State corrections vehicle involved in hit-and-run accident

State corrections vehicle involved in hit-and-run accident

FAYETTE COUNTY, Pa. — Jaycin Stillwagon reached out to Target 11 Investigator Rick Earle after a hit-and-run accident damaged her minivan, and she said no one was being held accountable.

It all began last winter when Stillwagon pulled up to the gas pump at a convenience store in Connellsville. After getting gas, she went inside the store. While inside, the driver of a Pennsylvania Department of Corrections K-9 SUV backed into her vehicle and then left the scene.

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Stillwagon didn’t notice the damage, got into her minivan, and left the gas station. Seconds later, a good Samaritan flagged her down and told her what happened.

“I got into my vehicle and, you know, continued out on my endeavors that day. I was flagged down by a lady who said that my car was hit while I was in the store. And I was totally unaware and thank goodness she stopped and flagged me down,” Stillwagon said.

Stillwagon went back to the convenience store and called the police. Police tracked down the SUV and the driver returned to the store. According to a police report obtained by Target 11, the driver initially told police that he didn’t hit a vehicle.

“He said, ‘I didn’t know that I hit her,’ but after reviewing the tape, he said that he hit me. In the tape, you can clearly see he hits me, pulls back into the parking space and then gets out to look at what happened to my car, and then gets back in his vehicle and pulls out,” Stillwagon said.

After police showed the driver the surveillance video from the store’s camera system, he admitted he struck the vehicle.

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The video exclusively obtained by Target 11 shows the driver backing out of a space and hitting the van’s bumper. The video shows the van violently shaking for several seconds. The driver of the state vehicle then gets out and looks at the van but then returns to the SUV and drives off.

Stillwagon wanted to press charges, but state police in Uniontown investigated and decided not to pursue charges.

“I don’t know how there could be no findings. I mean, I have damage to my vehicle and there’s a tape that clearly shows that this happened,” Stillwagon said.

Target 11 showed the video to WPXI Legal Analyst Phil DiLucente, who said police could have filed charges.

“It’s very clear that a summary offense of leaving the scene of an accident, accident involving damage to property can be filed, if law enforcement chooses to do so,” DiLucente said.

Target 11 also reached out to Fayette County District Attorney Richard Bower. He said he had nothing to do with the investigation and the decision not to file charges. Bower said that was handled by state police.

Because the police report indicated that the driver was self-insured, Stillwagon said she didn’t know where to turn to file a claim. The report also didn’t say which state agency the driver worked for.

Target 11 reached out the Pennsylvania Department of General Services. They said they would cover the damages which came to about $600.

A spokesperson for the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections said they were unaware of the accident until we contacted them.

“It’s our understanding that the DOC employee did not realize he struck the van while backing up. The DOC did not learn about the crash until we received an email from you,” the DOC spokesperson said.

The entire experience has left Stillwagon frustrated and disappointed in the system.

“I think they should be held to a higher standard. They’re representing the uniform,” she said.

The Department of Corrections said the driver involved in the accident is no longer in the K-9 unit but would not say if he faced any disciplinary action as a result of the accident.

We called the phone number on the police report for the K-9 officer and left a message but never heard back. We also asked the DOC to reach out to the officer, but they declined our request.

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