Police said Natalie man lied about crash because of suspended license
CONYNGHAM TOWNSHIP - A Natalie man, who left the scene of an accident last month with his young daughter after being injured and then lied about what happened, has been charged with multiple offenses, including endangering the welfare of a child and careless driving.
Authorities reported Cody C. Strunk, 29, failed to call police or take his daughter, Haley, 4, to a doctor and instead hitched a ride and returned to the scene with his mother, who tried to take the blame for the accident.
Strunk, whose license was suspended for a previous DUI, is facing two counts of false reports and one count each of failing to give immediate notice of an accident to police, endangering the welfare of children, reckless driving, careless driving, driving at an unsafe speed, driving without a license, driving under suspension and failure to drive in a single lane.
The charges filed by Conyngham Township Officer-in-Charge Philip Schlegel relate to an accident that occurred at 10:07 a.m. Dec. 11 on Route 61 near the Mount Carmel Sportsman Club.
According to a criminal complaint filed at the office of Magisterial District Judge Craig Long, of Catawissa, Strunk was driving a Ford Mustang south on Route 61 when it hit a storm drain, causing the car to spin out of control. The car crossed both northbound lanes of the highway before hitting a ditch and flipping over.
Strunk's daughter was in a child safety seat in the rear of the car, police said.
After Strunk freed himself and his daughter from the car, a witness spotted them crawling up an embankment near Mount Carmel Sportsman Club. However, by the time police arrived, they had already hitched a ride in a Chevrolet pickup truck heading to Mount Carmel.
According to court documents, Strunk's mother, Tracey Ann Rightnour, pulled up to the scene shortly after in a gray minivan with Strunk and his daughter, who seemed uninjured but shaken.
Rightnour told police she had been driving the car and ran to Mount Carmel about two or three miles away, while Strunk freed himself and his daughter. But police noticed that Rightnour looked fine while Strunk had head injuries and was bleeding.
Police found blood splattered on the driver's seat of the car and a rag covered in blood, while the front passenger seat was littered with several items.
When confronted with the evidence by police, Strunk and Rightnour admitted to covering up the accident to protect Strunk.
Police said Strunk's car, which was towed from the scene, was deemed unsafe because the rear tires were so bald metal cords inside were exposed.
Police did not indicate if Rightnour will be charged with making false reports.
Strunk remains free since the charges were filed by summons and did not involve an arraignment. He is scheduled to appear for a preliminary hearing before Long at 2 p.m. Feb. 6.