Liberty man sentenced to three years in prison in hit-skip death of Warren pedestrian


By Ed Runyan

runyan@vindy.com

WARREN

Daniel J. Waggoner Jr., 29, of James Lane in Liberty, who hit and killed a pedestrian along Youngstown Road in Warren on July 30, has been sentenced to three years in prison.

Waggoner hit Paul A. Rose, 61, of Hazelwood Avenue Southeast, as Rose walked across Youngstown Road near Rogers Avenue pushing a shopping cart. Rose died at St. Elizabeth Youngstown Hospital.

Rose frequently pushed a shopping cart or walker along U.S. Route 422 while collecting cans along Youngstown Road, neighbors said. He walked slowly, causing some to believe it was likely he would get hit by a car, neighbors said.

The accident occurred at 9:40 p.m., police said. He had made it more than halfway across the road and was hit in the inside lane of westbound travel. The Ohio State Highway Patrol deemed Rose to be at fault for the accident.

But Waggoner fled from the scene and parked the car he was driving in his mother’s garage, said Mike Burnett, an assistant Trumbull County prosecutor. The next day, Waggoner moved it to the trailer park where he lived.

Ben Harrell, Warren police traffic officer, used the description of the car given by witnesses to conduct a search of similar vehicles. It led him to the trailer park and to the green Toyota involved in the crash.

It had windshield damage, and DNA recovered from the front of the vehicle was a match to Rose, Burnett said.

Waggoner pleaded guilty Monday in common pleas court to leaving the scene of an accident and tampering with evidence. Each charge carried a maximum penalty of three years in prison.

Judge Peter Kontos said Waggoner’s leaving the scene without stopping after the accident was “repulsive” and “cowardly” because he drove off not knowing if Rose was dead or alive.

Judge Kontos also suspended Waggoner’s driver’s license for three years, and Waggoner will serve three years’ probation after he is released from prison.

Burnett said Waggoner admitted that he knew he had hit Rose, but he fled because he was scared.

Waggoner also has an unrelated drunken driving charge and failure to drive in marked lanes case pending in Warren Municipal Court based on a July 7 incident.

This is not the first time Harrell has helped solve a vehicle-related crime. “He just really enjoys doing that,” Burnett said of Harrell using his knowledge of automobiles and a state automobile database to track down vehicles.

Harrell has been a police officer 18 years, but he worked as a heavy-equipment operator for the city for 10 years before that and also worked for a Warren towing company many years before that.

In 2004, Harrell helped the Niles Police Department find the vehicle involved in the hit-and-run accident that critically injured Annie Lee. The girl, then 10, was walking across U.S. Route 422 near North Road with her grandmother and brother at the time of the crash. She was left a quadraplegic and died in 2006 of an infection.

Irving Russ was sentenced to 10 years in prison in 2007 for leaving the scene of the accident.

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