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St. Marys man charged in hit-and-run

August 8, 2012

ST. MARYS – A St. Marys man has been arrested and charged following a July 28 hit-and-run incident on Washington Street which left a 21-year-old woman with life-threatening injuries.
For his alleged role in the hit-and-run, Dean G. Schatz, 41, of East Eschbach Road, St. Marys, is facing felony charges of aggravated assault by vehicle and accidents involving death or personal injury, as well as misdemeanor charges of providing false reports to law enforcement authorities-falsely, providing false reports to law enforcement authorities-ficticious, and tampering with or fabricating physical evidence. Schatz is also charged with summary offenses of duty to give information and render aid, and duty to give information and render aid-report of accident to police.
According to the affidavit of probable cause, City of St. Marys Police were called to a location outside 719 Washington St. at 3:15 a.m. on July 28. Upon arriving, officers discovered Natasha "Tasha" Schmitz, 21, of St. Marys, lying on her back in the driveway at the above location with visible injuries.
Police also noted shattered and detached debris from a vehicle found and collected in the immediate area.
According to the affidavit, police determined that Schmitz had been carried 47 feet by the impact. She was taken to the Emergency Department at Elk Regional Health Center and later Altoona Regional Hospital.
In his report, Sergeant Thomas J. Nicklas stated that in speaking with persons at the scene, he was told that Schmitz was alone at the time of the incident outside the Washington Street residence and that those inside heard "what sounded like two vehicles hitting each other."
An eyewitness described hearing the vehicle involved accelerate and then seeing it flee the scene. The vehicle was described to Nicklas as a white Ford F-150.
At 8:30 a.m. on July 28, Dean Schatz contacted police to inform them that his car, a 2010 white-colored Chevrolet Avalanche, had been stolen overnight.
In his affidavit, Nicklas said the Ford F-150 and Chevrolet Avalanche share many similar characteristics.
Schatz told police he had driven home from a camp in Rasselas, arriving home between 1 and 2 a.m. on July 28, and left the keys on the floorboard of the vehicle. Schatz said it was approximately six hours later that he discovered the vehicle missing.
According to the affidavit, Nicklas said he was informed that the vehicle had been recovered by police off of Curry Avenue in the Stackpole Complex with blood and hair on the fender and damage to the front end.
On July 30, the Pa. State Police Forensics Unit processed the vehicle for fingerprints, tissue, hair, and fibers. Debris recovered at the scene of the hit-and-run was subsequently compared to the damaged portions of the vehicle by Nicklas, who determined them to be "precise matches."

Pick up a copy of the Thursday, Aug. 9, 2012 edition of The Ridgway Record for more.

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