MOUNT CARMEL - A Church Hill man is facing a dozen charges including two counts of child endangerment after allegedly being involved in two accidents, one right after the other, while intoxicated with two unrestrained children in his pickup late Monday night.
Michael Allen Tipton, 39, 471 Okalona Road, Church Hill, had actually been involved in an accident earlier Monday evening, but police didn't make any arrests because it couldn't be determined who was driving.
At 11:17 p.m. Monday, Mount Carmel Fire Chief Chris Jones reported to police that one of his firefighters, Ryan Christian, had been sideswiped on Independence Avenue by a silver Chevrolet pickup. The pickup had fled the scene and turned onto Tranbarger Avenue.
Mount Carmel Police Department Officer David Dean said he was traveling along Tranbarger Avenue looking for the pickup when he received a report that a Chevrolet pickup had crashed into a guardrail on Lewis Lane and was stuck in a ditch.
Dean said when he arrived on the scene, Tipton was "smoking his tires" attempting to get out of the ditch. Upon speaking to Tipton, Dean said he detected a strong odor of alcohol, and when he asked Tipton to exit the pickup a cold 12-ounce beer container fell out when Tipton opened the door.
A search of Tipton's vehicle allegedly revealed him to also be in possession of a marijuana joint. The pickup was a 1998 Chevrolet Silverado with an extended cab, and Dean said Tipton's children, ages 3 and 5, were sitting on a wooden crate unrestrained behind the driver's seat.
"He said he was on his way to McDonald's to buy his kids a corn dog," Dean told the Times-News Tuesday. "I told him, first of all McDonald's is closed. And second, McDonald's doesn't sell corn dogs, but he insisted that's what he was doing driving drunk with his two small children at midnight."
Dean said the children's mother was too intoxicated to take custody of them, and after no family members would agree to take the children they were turned over to the Department of Children's Services. Dean added that the children were wearing only a shirt and underwear and had no shoes, and Christian - the firefighter who had been sideswiped by Tipton earlier - went to Wal-Mart and bought the children clothing.
Aside from two counts of child endangerment, Tipton was charged with DUI, leaving the scene of an accident, simple possession of marijuana, two counts of violation of the child restraint law, violation of the implied consent law, failure to show proof of insurance, violation of the seat belt law, registration violation, and driving left of center.
He was released on bond Tuesday morning and is scheduled for arraignment April 11.