WILKES-BARRE — A Missouri man working for a construction company that built the hotel at Mohegan Sun in Plains Township will face vehicular homicide charges in Luzerne County Court.
City police and Luzerne County detectives allege Patrick Ramirez, 25, fatally struck Shawn Stewart, 25, of Missouri, in the parking lot of the McDonald’s on Kidder Street after a night of drinking with co-workers on Sept. 9.
Samantha Pinson recalled Wednesday at Ramirez’s preliminary hearing before District Judge Martin Kane that she was in the drive-thru and noticed “smoke and dust.” Pinson said she turned her head and saw a large white truck driving away and a man lying on the pavement.
“I heard his head hit the ground,” Pinson testified. “There was blood coming out of his mouth. He was bad.”
She said that before Ramirez drove away he got out and told Stewart, “You need to get up; we gotta go.” Pinson said she told Ramirez his friend needed help and called police.
Other witnesses who did not testify Wednesday told police, according to the criminal complaint, the truck turned onto Kidder Street toward Interstate 81.
Police officers Kirk Merchel and James Touey testified the truck was found in the parking lot of the Host Inn on Kidder Street, where Ramirez and Stewart were staying with co-workers.
Merchel said Ramirez was found in his hotel room and appeared intoxicated. Ramirez was taken to Geisinger Wyoming Valley Medical Center, where he refused to submit to a blood-alcohol test.
Detective James Gatrell said Ramirez, Stewart and Stewart Thompson drank a bottle of vodka in the hotel’s parking lot before spending three hours at the Arena Bar and Grill, where they had more to drink. They returned to the hotel and decided to go to McDonald’s with Stewart driving the truck, Gatrell said.
Gatrell said that prior to the fatal crash Ramirez and Stewart argued about the way Ramirez drove to McDonald’s.
Before the hearing, Assistant District Attorney Michelle Ann Hardik amended the criminal complaint, adding vehicular homicide by driving under the influence of alcohol.
Ramirez remains free on $25,000 bail on charges of homicide by vehicle while DUI, aggravated assault by vehicle, aggravated assault by vehicle while DUI, accidents involving death, careless driving and failure to stop and render aid.
Ramirez is represented by attorney Nanda Palissery.