A Jacobus woman who police initially accused of running over a local fire chief's foot and hitting his leg with her vehicle has entered a diversionary program that allows her to avoid trial.
On Tuesday, 61-year-old Faye Hammers was admitted to the county's Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition program, which allows first-time offenders to avoid conviction by instead completing court-ordered requirements.
Defense attorney Ed Paskey said Hammers didn't strike Jacobus' then-fire chief, Shannon Blevins, with her vehicle.
"It was a heated exchange of words, which she has acknowledged from the beginning," Paskey said.
Charging documents initially alleged her Subaru Outback struck Blevins' leg and that one of her tires ran over his foot.
But at Hammers' preliminary hearing in January, Blevins said nothing about his leg being struck and testified a tire grazed his boot, according to Paskey.
Boot 'grazed': York County District Attorney Tom Kearney said the preliminary hearing transcript shows Blevins said, "When I asked her to back up again she cut her wheels hard and just hit the gas. The tire ... just grazed the tip of my boot."
Kearney said such discrepancies can happen in stressful, chaotic moments.
"I don't think it was anything intentional. Sometimes in the heat of the moment people perceive things (incorrectly)," he said. "There was a lot going on at the time — and a lot the chief was responsible for."
Road 'a mess': Blevins, who has moved from the area and is no longer Jacobus fire chief, said the scene was a mess, with vehicles sliding off the road, other vehicles trying to go around the stuck vehicles and two cars that were simply abandoned.
State police said the 1:45 p.m. Dec. 8 incident between Hammers and Blevins started because Hammers was frustrated at being stuck in traffic.
PennDOT crews were working to clear snow from Susquehanna Trail near Beck Road in Springfield Township. At the time, that portion of the Trail was closed because of the snowstorm.
"I was told people were sitting there approximately two hours," he said. "I had at least 75 cars stuck there and all of them were able to follow (directions)."
Plus, he said, he had other snow-related emergencies to respond to, which is why he didn't bother to write down the names of witnesses to the confrontation.
Misunderstanding: Blevins said he scribbled a note for state police detailing what happened and said he thinks the misunderstanding arose from that note.
He confirmed he was not injured, that his leg was not struck by Hammers' car and that her tire grazed his boot.
"She was being very unruly on the scene ... acting that way on the scene was just crazy," Blevins said.
He said when Hammers nearly ran over his foot, "it was the straw that broke the camel's back" and he called police.
Blevins said he approves of Hammers entering the ARD program and simply wanted to see her held accountable in some way for her actions.
"The fire chief, to his credit, did not oppose ARD," Kearney said.
'Isolated incident': Kearney said Hammers is a good candidate for ARD because she is not a threat to society and is amenable to treatment.
"We learned ... she was extremely remorseful. And I think she is an excellent candidate for rehabilitation," the district attorney said. "By all accounts this appears to be an isolated incident (committed) by a woman who apparently was having a bad day."
Hammers must spend 12 months on probation, pay court costs, perform 35 hours of community service, continue counseling and write a letter of apology to Blevins, according to Kearney.
Defendants who successfully complete ARD can have their records expunged.
'Perfect resolution': "It was an outstanding offer for her and a perfect resolution to the case," Paskey said of ARD. "It achieves her goal to have the charges ultimately dismissed ... and she still gets to express her remorse."
Hammers was facing charges of simple assault, reckless endangerment, harassment, failing to obey an authorized person directing traffic, failing to stay within her lane of travel, reckless driving and careless driving.
— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at firstname.lastname@example.org.