April 17, 2024

Sep. 12—Scranton police charged a Clarks Summit man with striking a highway worker Monday morning with his SUV.

Harold Nealon, 73, is charged with causing an accident involving death or personal injury, recklessly endangering another person, ignoring his duty to give information and render aid, reckless driving and careless driving.

Nealon told police he didn’t realize he struck anyone, according to an arrest affidavit. The worker, a woman who works for the state Department of Transportation, was hospitalized, but was able to speak to police later. Police did not identify her.

The incident happened shortly after 10:30 a.m.

Witnesses told Patrolman Donald Hofsommer that a white Chevrolet Equinox drove around a blockade closing Newton Road. The blockade consisted of a large, orange “road closed” sign and traffic cones. The road was closed because of damage from rushing water Saturday.

The SUV drove into a work zone that had heavy equipment and about a dozen workers dressed in high-visibility clothing.

The victimized worker was standing in front of the SUV’s driver’s side mirror “and began to scold the driver” for trying to drive around the blockade, according to the affidavit.

As Nealon began driving away, the SUV struck the worker. The worker grabbed onto the SUV, which dragged her about 60 feet before she let go and hit the ground, according to the affidavit.

The SUV fled, but a fellow worker followed it to McDade Park where police took Nealon into custody.

Nealon “admitted to driving around the blockade” and said he did it because “another vehicle was allowed to proceed by in the other direction.”

He was released on $20,000 unsecured bail.

His preliminary hearing is scheduled for Sept. 25 at 10:30 a.m.

Jonathan Eboli, PennDOT assistant district executive for maintenance, said the road was closed from Jackson Street to a point a few hundred feet north as workers removed a tree and other debris that washed onto the road. The SUV driver moved traffic cones to get through before encountering the workers, Eboli said.

Annually, PennDOT holds a ceremony to remember highway workers killed or injured in work zones. The agency also takes other measures to promote work-zone safety, including issuing news releases hoping for media coverage that reminds drivers to slow down and drive more carefully. The agency issued another after the latest incident, but at least one driver didn’t get the message.

As Eboli explained flood-damage repairs on closed Laurel Hill Road in Newton Twp. to a reporter, a car ignored a road-closed sign at the top of the hill and motored by. The car passed without incident, but Eboli was visibly annoyed.

“That’s the concern and our employees are here working with the anticipation that there’s not going to be anyone behind them or not going to be anybody in the way,” he said.

Contact the writer: bkrawczeniuk@timesshamrock.com; 570-348-9147; @BorysBlogTT on Twitter.

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