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Police let driver go after he hit two trucks, building

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Officer says there was no charge for which he could arrest him

By Randy Patrick

Bardstown Police had to release a Hodgenville man Tuesday afternoon after he rear-ended a pickup on Fifth Street, crossed the street and hit another truck in the side, crashed into an apartment building, then fled on a flat front tire.

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Sheriff’s deputies and a state trooper caught up with him at the Dollar General on New Haven Road and held him there until city officers arrived to question him.

Aaron Hoehler, 24, was charged only with leaving the scene of an accident and possession of marijuana. He was not jailed.

Bardstown Sgt. Tom Blair said two field sobriety tests showed he was not impaired.

Hoehler was not charged with hit and run “because it was an accident,” Blair said.

He said he couldn’t charge him with evading police because he had no police in pursuit at the time he stopped at the dollar store, and he couldn’t charge him with other traffic offenses because he didn’t witness them.

As for the marijuana charge, Blair said, it was “half a joint,” and under state law, that’s no longer an offense that results in jail time.

Blair said that what a police officer would like to do and what the law will allow him to do are sometimes different.

The accident was reported at 4:26 p.m. to E-911 Dispatch. Blair arrived at the site of the accidents a few minutes later.

According to Ronald Coulter of Bardstown, who was driving the second truck that was hit, Hoehler was going south on Fifth Street and hit the first truck in the rear.

That truck was driven by Nicholas Ryan Cravens of Bardstown, who had his two-year-old son with him and sustained only minor damage, but the door of Coulter’s truck was smashed in.

After Hoehler hit the second truck, he lost control and veered into Matt and Valerie Anderson’s apartment, in a building at the corner of Broadway and Fifth owned by Rick Molyneaux.

The impact knocked bricks loose on the outside of the building and made a big hole on the inside, Matt Anderson said. No one was home at the time, according to Blair.

Bardstown firefighters used a tarp to cover the hole to keep the weather out.

Ben Wathen, an employee of the state Department of Highways in Bullitt County, happened to be passing through and saw Hoehler hit the second truck and the building, then he took a different route to head him off. When he got to the Dollar General store, Wathen flagged down Sgt. Ramon Pineiroa of the Sheriff’s Office to let him know the runner was at the store.

Pineiroa, Deputies Bryan Adams and Jamie Ferrie, and Kentucky State Police Trooper Kevin Davis held Hoehler until Blair and a new trainee, Officer Andrew Pile, arrived from working the accidents at Fifth and Broadway.

Adams gave Hoehler a hooded sweatshirt to wear because the man had on only a T-shirt and was cold.

Hoehler was driving a white Toyota Tacoma pickup with Hardin County tags.

Blair said it appeared Hoehler swerved to try to avoid rear-ending the first truck when he hit the second one and then the apartment.

“He just got scared and took off,” he said.

He eventually had to stop, he said, because he blew out the left front tire.

Hoehler is scheduled for district court at 9 a.m. on Jan. 2.