HAZLETON - A man who police said passed out after injecting heroin inside a vehicle awoke and attempted to drive away, striking an emergency medical technician and nearly hitting an officer.
Nicholas Anthony Cusatis, 28, of Tomhicken Road, Sugarloaf, was arraigned Thursday on charges of reckless endangerment, fleeing or attempting to elude police, resisting arrest, possession of drug paraphernalia and driving under the influence of a controlled substance. He was jailed at the Luzerne County Correctional Facility for lack of $10,000 bail.
Police said the emergency medical technician, John Veen, was struck in the arm when Cusatis drove away.
According to the criminal complaint:
Veen was tending to Cusatis who was slumped over the steering wheel of a Dodge Caravan in the area of Cleveland and Diamond avenues at about 4:15 p.m. Wednesday. Cusatis woke up and told Veen several times, “I’m sorry dude.”
Cusatis started the vehicle as a police officer arrived and approached the passenger side window. Cusatis pulled forward striking Veen in the arm with the open driver’s side door and forced the officer to jumped out of the way to avoid being hit by the Dodge.
Police allege in the complaint that Cusatis struck a parked 2001 Chrysler as he drove away. Police chased Cusatis, who passed through intersections ignoring stop signs. Cusatis stopped in the 500 block of East Diamond Avenue, where he refused to exit the vehicle.
Police allege Cusatis appeared to be under the influence of a controlled substance. He allegedly told police he “just shot up” a few minutes before he passed out inside the Dodge.
Cusatis was taken to Hazleton General Hospital for a blood test.
Court records show Cusatis was sentenced by a Luzerne County judge in February 2006 to three to six years in state prison for robbing a tobacco store in West Hazleton with a butcher knife.
A preliminary hearing is scheduled on June 26 before District Judge Joseph Zola in Hazleton.