Archive for category Bethlehem

Lehigh County coroner rules hit-and-run victim’s dismemberment death an accident

Posted by Reblog: Lehigh Valley News.

Police found part of the victim's body inside hit-and-run suspect Jose Antonio Santiago's car, but he denies striking anyone, court records say.

The Allentown pedestrian struck by a hit-and-run driver on Airport Road died from multiple blunt force injuries, Lehigh County Coroner Scott Grim said Wednesday.

Following an autopsy Tuesday, he ruled the death of 62-year-old Anna Lewis an accident. She was pronounced dead Sunday night at the site of the Hanover Township crash that also sent her sister, Rosalie Carlo, to the hospital.

Lewis and Carlo were walking shortly before 9 p.m. Sunday on the east shoulder of Airport Road between Catasauqua and Airport Center roads when they were allegedly struck by Jose Antonio Santiago, who was behind the wheel of a Saab sedan. The force of the crash severed Lewis at the waist, authorities say.

Lewis, of the 1400 block of Hanover Avenue, was pronounced dead at 9:36 p.m. in the 1700 block of Airport Road, according to the coroner.

Santiago, a 33-year-old Allentown man, didn’t stop after the crash, authorities say. Later that night, police found his Saab parked in the 1800 block of Cloverdale Road in Bethlehem.

The vehicle had heavy front-end damage and Lewis’ upper torso was on the passenger-side floor, authorities say. Santiago, of the 800 block of West Chew Street, was arrested early Monday and is being held on hit-and-run charges in Lehigh County Jail in lieu of $275,000 bail.

Court records say Santiago smelled of alcohol and had what looked like “body matter” on his pants leg at the time of his arrest, but insisted he hadn’t been in a crash. He allegedly told police, “I didn’t hit anyone. I would have stopped. I’m not a bad person.”

Authorities have not said how Lewis’ upper torso ended up in Santiago’s car, or whether speed or alcohol played a role in the deadly wreck. The crash remains under investigation.

Carlo, of Brooklyn, New York, is recovering from a broken wrist and other injuries at St. Luke’s University Hospital in Fountain Hill. She said Lewis had planned to retire this year after working for many years in a nursing home.

Precious Petty may be reached at ppetty@express-times.com. Follow her on Twitter @precpetty. Find Lehigh County news on Facebook.

Bethlehem man assaults woman, damages wall with skeleton statute, records say

Posted by Reblog: Lehigh Valley News.

Police charged the 24-year-old with simple assault and harassment.

A Bethlehem man punched the mother of his child in the face and hurled a skeleton statue through the wall during an argument Friday, according to court records.

Reynaldo Torres-Santell, 24, of the first block of West Union Boulevard, allegedly started arguing with Tiffany Reyes in their home 6 p.m. Friday while Reyes was making dinner. Reyes said the fight became physical when Torres-Santell punched her in the face multiple times, pulled her hair and choked her, according to court records.

After the assault, court papers say Torres-Santell grabbed a skeleton statue off the couple’s television and threw it, breaking a hole into the wall.

Torres-Santell was arraigned before on-call District Judge Nancy Matos Gonzalez on charges of simple assault and harassment. He was released after posting 10 percent of his $5,000 bail. 

Power restored in Bethlehem as officials find source of Main Street gas leak

Posted by Reblog: Lehigh Valley News.

A gas leak was found at the Sun Inn at 564 Main St., UGI says.

Power has been restored in Center City Bethlehem, which was caused by an investigation into a gas leak on Main Street.

PPL Electric Utilities spokesman Joe Nixon said the company cut power to about 1,100 Bethlehem customers at the request of UGI Utilities, which was investigating a gas leak in Center City. All Bethlehem customers had their power restored by 10:20 a.m., he said.

UGI was called to investigate a gas leak at the Sun Inn at 564 Main St., UGI spokesman Joe Swope said. Thirteen people were initially pushed from the inn but were allowed to return after the source of the leak was found, Swope said.

UGI officials are currently working to repair the leak, Swope said.

Several Center City Bethlehem businesses closed during the brief outage but are now reopening, including McCarthy’s Red Stag Pub and Whiskey Bar, which is now again holding its St. Patrick’s Day Recovery Breakfast starting at noon.

Lynn Olanoff can be reached at lolanoff@express-times.com. Follow her on Twitter @LynnOlanoff. Find Bethlehem news on Facebook.

Almost 1,100 without power in Bethlehem, including much of Center City

Posted by Reblog: Lehigh Valley News.

A power outage has shuttered several Center City Bethlehem businesses.

UPDATE: Power restored in Bethlehem as officials find source of Main Street gas leak

A power outage has shuttered several Center City Bethlehem businesses.

PPL is reporting that 1,089 customers are without electricity in Bethlehem.

American Hairlines, one of the affected businesses, reported on its Twitter account that the company was told its power would be restored by 1 p.m. The West Broad Street salon is closed until the power is restored, it said.

McCarthy’s Red Stag Pub and Whiskey Bar on Main Street also has closed and has canceled its St. Patrick’s Day Recovery Breakfast, according to its Twitter account. The store says all of Main Street is without power.

WFMZ-TV reported the outage was caused by utility work in the area. PPL didn’t immediately respond to a call for comment.

Lynn Olanoff can be reached at lolanoff@express-times.com. Follow her on Twitter @LynnOlanoff. Find Bethlehem news on Facebook.

Bethlehem school district to borrow $50 million for new Nitschmann

Posted by Reblog: Lehigh Valley News.

Construction on the new school is slated to start this summer.

The Bethlehem Area School Board is moving forward with plans to borrow a maximum of $50 million for the construction of a new Nitschmann Middle School.

The district plans to borrow the money in two phases, first this spring and then in the summer of 2016.

Construction of the new middle school is slated to start this summer — behind the existing building at Eighth Avenue and West Union Boulevard in Bethlehem. Students would attend the new school at the start of the 2017 school year while demolition of the old school would continue until July 2018.

The project is estimated to cost $53 million. Bids for the project are due March 24.

Bethlehem is paying $5 million cash towards the cost of the design and early construction costs, leaving roughly $48 to $50 million to borrow.

A two-phase borrowing of fixed-rate bonds allows the district to only finance exactly what it needs for the project, said Scott Shearer, district financial adviser of Public Financial Management, Inc.

Superintendent Joseph Roy said the district will borrow $30 million and he expects it will need less than $20 million to finish the project. The district will have a better idea of the true costs when the bids come in, Roy said.

The district is trying to keep its overall debt costs level until 2021 when the district will start receiving about $4.4 million in additional revenue from the expiration of a Tax Increment Financing plan the district set up with the city and Northampton County in 2000 to pay for redevelopment of Bethlehem Works.

“We are earmarking $2.5 (million) of it, just a piece of it (for the new Nitschmann),” Roy said.

Currently, the TIF zone generates about $6 million in school taxes, which the district turns over to the Bethlehem Redevelopment Authority. The authority then refunds the district a portion of the money.

When the TIF expires, the district gets to keep all of that money.

To keep debt payment costs down until then, the district plans to refinance about $12.5 million of existing bonds, Shearer said.

The district has three options for the upcoming bond issue: a negotiated sale, issuing a request for proposal or a competitive auction, Shearer said. Shearer recommended a request for proposal because he expects there to be a lot of interest. He noted the district could always reject all of the bids if they’re unsatisfactory.

The board agreed to issue a request for proposal. The board is expected to vote at its April 20 regular board meeting on parameters for the bond issue.

The district currently has $259.5 million in outstanding principal debt. About $158.9 million of that is in fixed-rate bonds while the remaining $100.6 million is in variable rate bonds with overlying fixed payer swaps that are performing as designed.

Sara K. Satullo may be reached at ssatullo@express-times.com. Follow her on Twitter @sarasatullo. Find Bethlehem news on Facebook.

Bethlehem’s Main Street to be under construction for sidewalk repairs, gas main replacement

Posted by Reblog: Lehigh Valley News.

Two projects start Tuesday: a city sidewalk repair and streetscape project and a UGI Utilities gas main replacement.

Parts of Bethlehem‘s Main Street will be under construction starting Tuesday.

Two projects start that day: a city sidewalk repair and streetscape project and a UGI Utilities gas main replacement.

UGI will be replacing a gas main between Church Street and Hotel Bethlehem starting Tuesday, Bethlehem Traffic Superintendent Tiffany Wells said. The work will shift traffic and require lane closures at times, though two-way traffic will be maintained.

Later this month, UGI will be performing work on Church Street between Main and New Streets, which will require a lane closure. Together, the UGI work is expected to take three-to-four weeks; Wells did not know when the Church Street work would start.

Bethlehem on Tuesday also will be starting sidewalk repairs and other streetscape improvements on Main Street. Two-way traffic will be maintained throughout the project – which goes until June – but there will be times when a travel lane will be closed to allow for electrical conduit to be installed.

The streetscape work will be performed first on the east side of Main Street, starting at Church Street and proceeding north. The west side work will start at Broad Street and proceed south.

Read more about the streetscape project here.

Lehigh County hit-and-run victim was ‘good woman’ readying for retirement, sister says

Posted by Reblog: Lehigh Valley News.

Anna Lewis was killed and her sister, Rosalie Carlo, was injured when Jose Antonio Santiago allegedly struck them on Airport Road and drove off.

Allentown resident Anna Lewis spent the last 23 years of her life working at a nursing home and was preparing to retire.

Sister Rosalie Carlo said Lewis, 62, enjoyed her job, but was looking forward to the free time that comes with retirement.

On Sunday night, Lewis and Carlo were walking on Airport Road in Hanover Township, Lehigh County, after eating at a nearby Red Robin when they were hit by a car. Lewis’ body was severed by the force of the crash and she died; Carlo sustained a broken wrist and other injuries, authorities say.

Jose Antonio Santiago, 33, of Allentown, didn’t stop after the crash and has been charged in connection with the hit-and-run, court records say. Police found his heavily damaged Saab sedan parked on Cloverdale Road in Bethlehem; Lewis’ upper torso was on the passenger-side floor of the vehicle, records say.

Reached by phone Monday in her hospital room at St. Luke’s University Hospital in Fountain Hill, Carlo said of Santiago, “I hope he rots in hell.”

She added, her voice shaking with emotion, “She was going to retire this year. We were going to go to Atlantic City for my birthday. He took that all away.”

Carlo, 51, lives in Brooklyn, New York, and is in town visiting the siblings’ ailing mother, who lives in the Lehigh Valley. Their mother is slated to have surgery Tuesday at another hospital in the region, she said.

The crash and its aftermath are a blur, Carlo said. She remembers immense pressure and then waking up to find a boy asking if she was OK and assuring her help was on the way.

Carlo said she told the boy to check on her sister. The next thing she remembers is arriving at the hospital.

Later, Carlo woke up to find that “everything hurt.” In addition to a broken wrist, she has painful stomach and leg injuries that make it hard to get comfortable and rest.

What hurts most, however, is the knowledge that her sister is gone, Carlo said.

“It’s not right. My sister was a good woman,” she said.

Precious Petty may be reached at ppetty@express-times.com. Follow her on Twitter @precpetty. Find Lehigh County news on Facebook.

Lehigh County coroner identifies pedestrian killed in Airport Road hit-and-run, schedules autopsy

Posted by Reblog: Lehigh Valley News.

An autopsy is scheduled Tuesday to determine the exact cause of death for 62-year-old Anna M. Lewis.

The Lehigh County Coroner’s Office on Monday afternoon formally identified the 62-year-old Allentown woman killed in a Hanover Township hit-and-run crash.

An autopsy is scheduled Tuesday to determine the exact cause of death for Anna M. Lewis, of the 1400 block of Hanover Avenue, according to a news release. Deputy Coroner Craig Hanzl pronounced Lewis dead at 9:36 p.m. Sunday in the 1700 block of Airport Road.

Pennsylvania Sate Police are investigating the crash with the coroner’s office and released Lewis’ identity on Monday morning.

The deadly crash, which also injured Lewis’ 51-year-old sister Rosalie Carlo, of Brooklyn, New York, occurred shortly before 9 p.m. near the Airport and Airport Center roads intersection, authorities say. Allentown resident Jose Antonio Santiago, 33, has been charged in connection with the fatal wreck and is behind held at Lehigh County Jail in lieu of bail.

Police spotted his vehicle parked in Bethlehem about 90 minutes after the crash. He struck Lewis with such force that her body was severed at the waist; the victim’s upper torso was found in his vehicle, court records say.

Carlo is being treated at St. Luke’s University Hospital in Fountain Hill and is expected to recover from her injuries, which include a broken wrist. 

Precious Petty may be reached at ppetty@express-times.com. Follow her on Twitter @precpetty. Find Lehigh County news on Facebook.

Bethlehem woman nearly hits pedestrian while cop travels behind her, police report

Posted by Reblog: Lehigh Valley News.

Authorities say the 39-year-old suspect nearly struck a woman within a crosswalk in the first block of West Third Street in the city.

bethlehem police carA Bethlehem police officer spotted a 39-year-old driving while intoxicated, nearly striking a pedestrian, authorities report.

A 39-year-old Bethlehem woman nearly hit a woman in a crosswalk while driving under the influence of alcohol, according to city police.

The investigating officer, police say, was driving behind Heather Thomas, of the 700 block of Prospect Avenue, at 12:32 a.m. Sunday in the first block of West Third Street. The officer saw Thomas fail to slow down and nearly strike a woman crossing the street, Bethlehem police say.

The officer pulled Thomas over at Third Street and Brodhead Avenue, police say. Thomas failed field sobriety tests during the stop, police say. She will be sent a summons for drunken driving, according to authorities. 

Hit-and-run victim’s upper torso found in suspect’s car; driver claims, ‘I didn’t hit anyone,’ police say

Posted by Reblog: Lehigh Valley News.

Jose Santiago, 33, of Allentown, is charged in connection with the crash that killed one woman and injured a second, court records say.

An Allentown man was arrested early Monday and charged in connection with an Airport Road hit-and-run crash that killed one woman and injured another, court records say.

Jose Antonio Santiago, 33, of the 800 block of West Chew Street, is charged with a felony count of accidents involving death or personal injury, a misdemeanor count of the same offense and a summary count of driving on roadways laned for traffic, records say.

Santiago was arraigned before District Judge Daniel Trexler and sent to Lehigh County Jail in lieu of $275,000 bail, records say. His preliminary hearing is tentatively scheduled March 23.

Police reported that even though they found part of one victim’s body inside his car, Santiago insisted that he didn’t hit anyone. He told Pennsylvania State Police, “I would’ve stopped. I’m not a bad person,” records say.

State police found the unattended car about 90 minutes after the crash and found Santiago about two hours after that.

Santiago, who smelled of alcohol and had reddish “body matter” on his right pant leg, said he had a few alcoholic beverages at Stooges Bar in Allentown and was driving a friend home when the crash occurred, records say.

Police say Santiago was driving a silver 2003 Saab 9-5 on Airport Road shortly before 9 p.m. Sunday when he hit two women crossing in the 1700 block, near Airport Center Drive, in Hanover Township, Lehigh County.

The vehicle struck 62-year-old Allentown resident Anna Lewis with such force that her body was severed at the waist, records say. The other pedestrian, Rosalie Carlo, 51, of Brooklyn, New York, suffered a broken wrist and other injuries in the crash.

Santiago did not stop after hitting the women and left behind his vehicle’s right side mirror, the front grill, a portion of the right headlight, a portion of a window and other parts, records say. At 10:24 p.m. Sunday, a state trooper spotted a Saab with extensive front-end damage parked in the 1800 block of Cloverdale Road in Bethlehem.

The Saab was missing parts left behind at the crash scene and registered to Santiago, records say. Looking inside the vehicle, the trooper could see part of a body on the passenger-side floor, records say.

Lehigh County Coroner Scott Grim subsequently removed the upper portion of a body from the Saab and confirmed it was Lewis, records say.

At about 12:30 a.m. Monday, Santiago approached a trooper on Cloverdale Road, identified himself and said he owned the damaged Saab, records say. Santiago told police, “I had looked on WFMZ News and seen there was a hit-and-run accident. I didn’t hit anyone. I would’ve stopped. I’m not a bad person,” records say.

Santiago also said, “I was just bringing my friend home and it all happened so fast, but I didn’t hit anyone. If I did, I would’ve stopped,” records say. Police then took Santiago into custody, and he declined to answer questions about the crash, according to court records.

In addition to the coroner, state police were assisted by the county district attorney’s office, Northampton Regional EMS and the Hanover Township Fire Department, a news release says.

Anyone with information about the crash is asked to call the state police Bethlehem barracks at 610-861-2026

Precious Petty may be reached at ppetty@express-times.com. Follow her on Twitter @precpetty. Find Lehigh County news on Facebook.