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Driver who was ‘distracted’ indicted
BRENTWOOD — A Plaistow driver has been indicted for vehicular assault, months after telling police he was too distracted downloading an application for his smart phone to notice that he struck a person with his van.
John Sheehan, 30, is facing the vehicular assault charge along with a felony count of conduct after an accident for allegedly striking a man on May 20 about 9 p.m. and leaving the scene.
Police say Sheehan hit the man while driving east on Forrest Street on the night of May 20 around 9 p.m. then drove away.
Sheehan was charged with conduct after an accident for the alleged hit-and-run crash.
A grand jury added the misdemeanor charge of vehicular assault after convening earlier this month in Rockingham County Superior Court.
Prosecutors say Sheehan knew or should have known that he had just been involved in an accident that resulted in injuring the victim, Jonathan Stearns, who had been walking along the roadside.
Sheehan is accused of failing to stop at the scene of the crash and report his actions to police, the indictments say.
Police say they identified the van hours after the crash.
It was parked in front of Sheehan’s home and had damage to its front end, according to police. Witnesses told police they heard a thump at the time of the crash. When questioned by police, Sheehan allegedly asked “what did I hit?”
Sheehan told officers he thought he hit a tree and went home, but that he was too distracted by his phone to notice what he struck, according to police.
Stearns, the victim, was conscious and alert when emergency workers arrived on the scene. He was first taken to Lawrence General Hospital then flown to Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, where he was treated for his injuries. The conduct after an accident charge is punishable by up to 3½ to 7 years in state prison. Sheehan is scheduled for arraignment on Aug. 30 in superior court.
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James A. Kimble may be reached at JKimble@newstote.com.
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