WILKES-BARRE — A man from New York City was returned to Luzerne County late Tuesday night to face charges he fled the scene of a crash after striking a woman whose leg was amputated as a result.
Unique Levon Jones, 29, of Bronx, is jailed without bail at the county correctional facility on multiple charges stemming from the hit-and-run at East Northampton and South Main streets Feb. 10.
City police allege Jones struck Angela Velazquez, 38, as she crossed East Northampton Street, and failed to remain at the scene.
Court records highlight Jones’ alleged escape from the scene: He forced his way through a residence as a woman was taking a shower, jumped into a Wilkes University student’s vehicle and attempted to persuade another student for a ride, waiting inside a university-owned building and then taking an Uber to flee center city.
Velazquez, of Kingston, suffered serious injuries and had her right leg amputated. She underwent several surgeries at Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center in Dauphin County.
Jones was captured by the U.S. Marshals Fugitive Unit in Greensboro, North Carolina, on March 4. Jones has family in the Greensboro area.
Jones was extradited to Wilkes-Barre, where he was arraigned by District Judge Thomas F. Malloy Sr. on two counts each of simple assault, unlawful restraint and reckless endangerment, and one count each of aggravated assault by vehicle, fleeing or attempting to elude police, flight to avoid apprehension, accidents involving death or injury, unauthorized use of a vehicle, criminal trespass, trespass by vehicle and two traffic citations. Malloy deemed Jones a flight risk and a danger to society, jailing him without bail.
The incident began when city officers stopped the driver of a Chevrolet Impala for having items hanging from the rearview mirror in the 100 block of South Empire Street. Jones was a passenger in the Chevrolet.
According to the criminal complaint:
Jones gave the officer a false name and date of birth and jumped in the driver’s seat and sped away. Officers initiated a pursuit but lost sight of the vehicle in the Heights area.
Officer Mike Twerdi was traveling west on East Northampton Street and spotted the Chevrolet traveling east on the same street. As Twerdi activated the cruiser’s lights and siren and turned around, Twerdi saw debris in the air at East Northampton and South Main streets and realized a woman, Velazquez, was struck.
Twerdi immediately called for emergency medical technicians and rendered aid to Velazquez.
Officer Joe Homza assisted Twerdi with applying two tourniquets to slow the loss of blood, including Homza shoving his knee into Velazquez’s hip to impede the flow of blood through the femoral artery, the complaint says.
After striking Velazquez, the complaint details Jones’ intense efforts to escape the scene.
Jones abandoned the Chevrolet, which had a flattened right front tire, behind a residence on West South Street. A woman inside a residence told police she was taking a shower when a man banged on the rear door saying, “I’m shot and need help.”
The woman refused to open the door, which police allege Jones forced open. Police in the complaint say Jones ran through the house and out the front door.
Jones allegedly entered the Dorothy Dickson Darte Center on the Wilkes campus and later approached a female student placing items in her vehicle. Jones asked her for a ride and she refused.
Jones jumped in the car as the student began driving away. She drove on South River Street and turned onto West Northampton Street where Jones began, “freaking out” when he saw police and emergency services tending to Velazquez at East Northampton and South Main streets.
Jones yelled to the student to turn around and she pulled into a parking lot.
Jones gave the student his cell phone and forced her to summon an Uber ride with directions to pick him up, the complaint says.
When the Uber vehicle arrived, Jones opened the rear hatch and sat in the cargo area but was told by the driver he had to sit in the rear seat. The Uber driver turned onto Northampton Street and came upon the scene at South Main Street.
The Uber driver told police Jones asked her if police were checking vehicles and later dropped him off in the 200 block of Scott Street.
During his flight, Jones allegedly approached a second Wilkes student asking for a ride out of the downtown area.
Police learned the Chevrolet was stolen from Sherman Hills.