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Hannibal Courier - Post - Hannibal, MO
  • Holiday headaches: Pastor’s vehicles hit on Easter, Mother’s Day

  • Most people look forward to holidays. Considering that vehicles driven by Rev. John Paul Tomko of Big River Chapel were struck while parked both on Easter and Mother’s Day, one can’t blame Tomko if he’s not too enthused about Memorial Day later this month.
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  • Most people look forward to holidays. Considering that vehicles driven by Rev. John Paul Tomko of Big River Chapel were struck while parked both on Easter and Mother’s Day, one can’t blame Tomko if he’s not too enthused about Memorial Day later this month.
    Tomko lives at the corner of Maple and Church streets. The residence, which he says was built in 1853, does not feature any off-street parking.
    On April 20 (Easter), Tomko’s red 1999 Chevrolet Silverado pickup was parked on Church Street near his residence when it was totaled when struck by a white Dodge pickup truck. According to the accident report the driver of the truck, Paul J. Sultzman, 901 Baker St. in Hannibal, told police he remembered smoking K-2 five or six blocks before the crash and thought he’d either fallen asleep or passed out while driving moments before veering into Tomko’s truck.
    “I figured this is one time. What’s the worst that could happen?” Tomko remembers thinking at the time.
    Following the April accident, Tomko says he stopped parking on Church Street.
    “There’s too much traffic and too much speeding,” he said. “I figured it will be safer on Maple because there are stop signs to prevent people from speeding and they’ll be more careful.”
    On Sunday (Mother’s Day), Tomko discovered that parking a vehicle on Maple didn’t guarantee a vehicle’s safety. At approximately 8:30 p.m., Tomko was sitting with his family on their front porch when a car pulled up and parked in front of their house, and approximately 10 feet in front of the chapel’s utility truck.
    “It was a suspicious-looking vehicle,” said Tomko. “We didn’t know the person. We thought he was going to maybe visit our home.”
    When the driver of the vehicle, which was parked on the wrong side of the street in a “no parking” zone, did not get out a member of Tomko’s family asked the driver if he was all right. According to Tomko, at that point the car began to roll slowly forward, until the driver hit the gas and ran into the front of the truck, causing minimal damage to its front bumper.
    “He got out and said he had no idea there was a truck there,” said Tomko. “How do you not see a truck from 10 feet away?
    “The guy apologized and then he left.”
    At about that time a Hannibal police car arrived at the scene. Tomko told the officer which direction the car had gone. A few minutes later the vehicle that had struck the church truck returned, followed by an HPD patrol car.
    Page 2 of 2 - While the officer was filling out the report, Tomko said the driver of the car involved in the accident was acting oddly.
    “He kept pacing back and forth; he couldn’t stand still. He wasn’t entirely coherent,” he said. “And when I was talking to the officer, he (the driver of the car that struck the truck) tried to get into the officer’s car, thinking it was his.”
    After exchanging insurance information with Tomko, the individual, who at the time showed no signs of impairment, was allowed by the officer to leave, according to Lt. John Zerbonia of the Hannibal Police Department.
    Tomko claims the motorist then struck a truck parked near the intersection of Maple and Lyon streets, and then turned the wrong way onto Lyon, which is a one-way street.
    Zerbonia says the driver, who was from Columbia, Mo., was pursued by the officer after witnessing the car turn west on eastbound Lyon.
    The driver of the car, whose identity was not available from police Monday afternoon, was subsequently arrested for turning the wrong way on Lyon, for suspicion of driving while under the influence of drugs and for being in possession of drug paraphernalia.
    The incidents have left Tomko frustrated.
    “I feel like I can’t even park my vehicles at my house any more because of the drug-related traffic incidents inside this city,” he said. “I’m extremely concerned the Police Department isn’t fighting a strong enough war on drugs to be able to prevent this from happening.”
    Zerbonia refuted Tomko’s claim, pointing out that in the first 10 days of May that HPD officers have made 42 drug-related arrests.
    “We’re very proactive regarding illegal drugs,” said Zerbonia, noting HPD’s drug unit remains fully staffed despite the city’s ongoing budget crunch.
     
     
     

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