Lehigh Valley

Police: Drugged driver caused serious crash on Airport Road

EAST ALLEN TWP., Pa. - Pennsylvania State Police say that the 25-year-old driver who allegedly caused a violent wreck on Airport Road in January had amphetamine, methamphetamine and morphine in his system.

Austin L. Hess, no fixed address, faces two felony counts of vehicular aggravated assault while driving under the influence in connection to the Jan. 8 wreck that left one victim with a fractured femur and several broken ribs.

District Judge Alicia Zito arraigned Hess Friday morning, setting bail at $50,000 with a 10 percent cash option, if approved by pre-trial services.

The two-vehicle wreck happened along Airport Road in East Allen Township just north of Hanoverville Road.

State police with the Bethlehem barracks arrived shortly before 5 a.m. to find a heavily damaged Chevy Silverado in the southbound lane with the driver trapped inside. He sustained a broken left femur, fractured ribs and other severe injuries that required surgery and six days in the hospital, according to court records.

Police said they found Hess lying on the ground next to his Ford Escape, which was also in the southbound lane, according to records. They had identified him through his suspended driver’s license.

As paramedics were treating Hess, a trooper allegedly spotted a syringe fall out of his pocket. He was flown to St. Luke’s University Hospital in Fountain Hill for treatment of severe injuries to the left side of his body.

Police said they found Hess’s girlfriend on the shoulder of the road, suffering from a lacerated spleen, a broken right hand and other injuries that necessitated a three-day hospital stay. She allegedly told investigators that Hess had been driving and that they had both been using heroin that night.

State police allege they found a plastic wrapper consistent with those used to package heroin inside the Escape.

Investigators determined that Hess had been speeding north on Airport Road when he crossed over the center line on a slight downhill, left curve, hitting the Silverado head on.

Police charged Hess with two counts each of driving under the influence and vehicular aggravated assault while DUI along with a handful of summary traffic offenses, including careless driving and driving with a suspended license.

Hess failed to post bail and was sent to Northampton County Prison to await a preliminary hearing scheduled for April 2.

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