Story last updated at 6:16 p.m. Thursday, December 26, 2002

Snowstorm puts safety issues in police spotlight

Off the blotter

by Mark Kelsey
Staff Writer

The season's first substantial snowfall kept local law enforcement busy with some typically seasonal calls.

On Dec. 17, Homer police received several reports of children sledding in the roadway at a hairpin curve on East Hill Road. No one was apprehended, but Officer Jason Crockett said calls of this sort are not uncommon, especially after the first snow.

"Throughout the course of the winter we have a few of these types of calls," he said, noting that sledding in a roadway is illegal. "It's extremely dangerous. What will stop it from happening is if we have an accident."

Officer Dave Shealy also issued a reminder that snowmachines are illegal on roadways, except in very unusual conditions.

"Only in certain emergency circumstances, where there's lots of snow, is it OK. But that's extremely rare," he said. "Keep safety in mind. Roads are meant for


Unsafe winter recreation also led to a Saturday night call to Homer police about a juvenile on a snowboard being towed by a vehicle in the parking lot of Homer High School.

"It's not really safe to do that, and it's illegal, too," Crockett said. "It's always best to use your common sense when you're doing things in the snow for fun. It's OK to have fun, but be safe, as well."

The snowboarder was given a verbal warning.

On Friday, police arrested a 42-year-old man for assault following a report of a man brandishing a gun at a Myhill Drive address.

According to District Court documents, Edward Witbeck was charged with two counts of third-degree assault, a felony, after placing a couple and their infant child "in fear of imminent serious physical injury."

The incident arose when the couple went to Witbeck's residence, at his request, to discuss damage done to their vehicle three weeks earlier. When the couple arrived at the residence, Witbeck went to the front door and told them he would be out in a moment, according to reports.

Witbeck is then alleged to have returned yelling with a 9 mm automatic handgun, which he pointed at one of the victims.

Details on the above cases are part of public records found in police and state trooper logbooks and court documents. Suspects are presumed innocent until proven guilty.

For a full report on recent police and court activity, see Town Crier, Page 23.