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Police: Driver accidentally ran over men

By Ed Runyan, Jackson Diehl, Pete Mollica, Peter H. Milliken

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

The city prosecutor could file charges today.

STAFF REPORT

YOUNGSTOWN — It doesn’t appear that the driver of a pickup truck intentionally ran over two men, police said.

The victims were injured in the parking lot of Big D’s Irish Pub on Mahoning Avenue after a fight around 1:30 a.m. Tuesday.

Michael D. Spellick, 29, of Cooper Street was the most seriously injured, police said. He remained in critical condition late Tuesday at St. Elizabeth Health Center. David Keith, 46, of North Schenley Avenue was sitting up and bleeding from the face and head when police arrived at the West Side bar. He was hospitalized in guarded condition at St. Elizabeth.

No arrests were made, but Detective Sgts. Patrick Kelly and Brad Blackburn interviewed the pickup driver, Nicholas E. Cobbin, 25, of Boardman. A female bar patron described the driver of the pickup for police and provided a license plate number that led to an address in Boardman.

Boardman officers found the pickup as it was turning into its driveway around 2 a.m. Tuesday and detained the driver for Youngstown police.

Police who interviewed witnesses at the scene learned that an argument started in the bar and Spellick was thrown out. Three others who had been involved in the argument also went outside.

A bartender told police that Keith was jumped by two men and, as he lay on the ground, was run over by the pickup truck. A bouncer at the bar told police that the pickup also ran over Spellick.

Capt. Kenneth Centorame, chief of detectives, said after Keith was knocked to the ground others in the “angry mob” turned toward Cobbin, who was already in his pickup. Cobbin, concerned for himself and passengers, ran over the victims as he tried to leave the parking lot, Centorame said.

“It’s not like he intentionally tried to run them over,” the captain said. “He may face some traffic charges like hit and run but likely not felonious assault. It will be up to the prosecutor.”

City Prosecutor Jay Macejko said Tuesday that he met with detectives, reviewed reports, witness statements and the bar surveillance video. He asked for some follow-up investigation and intended to meet with detectives again today.

Centorame expects the two men who attacked Keith in the parking lot to be charged with felonious assault.

At the hospital, Keith, a corrections officer at the Ohio Penitentiary, told police a fight started inside the bar between two men and he tried to help the bar owner get them outside. He believed the situation had calmed down once the men were outside, but the next thing he knew he was attacked from behind. Police said Keith had what appeared to be a tire track across his upper chest area.

The bouncer called what happened in the parking lot a “free-for-all,” with several people fighting.