The suspect in a weekend hit-and-run that seriously injured a 59-year-old man has a history of traffic violations going back at least 16 years, court records reviewed by the Times Leader show.
Emiliano Hernandez, 46, turned himself in to Hanover Township police to face charges on Monday afternoon, nearly two days after he allegedly struck fellow township resident Peter Mangino at Oxford and Luzerne streets in the township.
Police said Mangino sustained very serious injuries and is on life support in the intensive care unit at Wilkes-Barre General Hospital.
And, police say, Hernandez only surrendered as investigators were preparing a search warrant to seize a damaged convertible he allegedly was driving when Mangino was hit.
Break in the case
Mangino was hit outside PT’s Late Night Bar at about 9 p.m. Saturday. Witnesses told investigators the vehicle that hit him and fled was a white Ford Mustang.
Monday brought a break in the investigation, when Wilkes-Barre police received an anonymous tip that a white Ford Mustang was at Peter’s Garage on Holland Street in the city.
Police went to the repair shop at about 12:15 p.m. to investigate.
According to a criminal complaint:
Police spoke to the garage owner, Pedro Hernandez, who claimed his brother, Carlos Hernandez, owns the vehicle. Pedro Hernandez told police the Ford had not been driven for months.
Evidence suggested otherwise. Police observed fresh damage to the Ford, including a cracked windshield and a missing passenger-side mirror.
Police matched a side mirror recovered at the scene, and it appeared to come from the Ford.
As police were inspecting the Ford outside, Emiliano Hernandez was inside Peter’s Garage.
After Emiliano Hernandez surrendered, he told police he was working at the garage and wanted to go home to see his children. He borrowed the Ford to drive home and turned from Lee Park Avenue onto Oxford Street.
He said he saw a man on a sidewalk but never thought that the person would step off. Hernandez claimed he wanted to stop but panicked and continued to drive away.
Witnesses told police the driver of the Ford was traveling at a high rate of speed, especially for Oxford Street, where the limit is 25 mph.
Hernandez was arraigned Monday night by District Judge Joseph Halesey in Hanover Township on two felony counts of accidents involving death or personal injury and a summary count of driving without a license. He was jailed at the Luzerne County Correctional Facility for lack of $100,000 bail.
Court records reveal Hernandez has a history of traffic and vehicle code violations in Luzerne County:
• Wilkes-Barre police cited him with driving without a license on Sept. 11, 2010. He has not responded to the citation.
• Wilkes-Barre police cited Hernandez with driving with a suspended license on Feb. 21, 2009. He pleaded guilty to the citation, and was placed on a payment plan to pay the fine. He made one $25 payment on Sept. 14, 2010, leaving an unpaid balance of $269.50.
• Shickshinny police cited Hernandez with speeding and driving without a license on May 28, 2006. The citations were dismissed at the district court level on March 22, 2016, due to no action.
• Pittston police cited Hernandez with operating a vehicle without insurance on Feb. 10, 2002. He pleaded guilty to the citation, and was placed on a payment plan to pay the fine. He made two $50 payments in May 2002, and has an unpaid balance of $275.
Hanover hit-run cases
Saturday’s incident marks the fifth serious hit-and-run in the township since 2015. The previous four were fatal, and no charges have been filed in any of those cases:
• Just after midnight on Feb. 25, Jason Filip, 36, of Hanover Township, was struck by a Ford Explorer on the Sans Souci Parkway in the area of 6 Strings Saloon. A woman from Newport Township surrendered later that day, but has not been charged.
• On the morning of March 31, 2017, Oliver Grosspietsch, 66, of Shickshinny, was struck while attempting to cross the Sans Souci Parkway at approximately 6:20 a.m. in the area of Parkway Plaza.
• On Aug. 22, 2015, Joseph Coleman, 21, of Main Road, Hanover Township, was struck and killed by a vehicle that failed to stop as he walked along Main Road in the area of Buttonwood Cafe and Skiro’s Landscaping. Police have not released the make and model of the vehicle that struck Coleman.
• On April 3, 2015, Larry Herbert, 61, of Wilkes-Barre, was struck by two vehicles while crossing Hazle Street near Claire’s Bar. Herbert died at Geisinger Wyoming Valley Medical Center in Plains Township.
Police believe Herbert was struck by two different vehicles, which were traveling in opposite directions on Hazle Street. The first was a dark-colored SUV which was traveling north; the other was a silver-colored Jeep Cherokee traveling south.