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By rob Wheary (Staff Writer firstname.lastname@example.org)
Published: June 5, 2010
KULPMONT – A Coal Township woman has been charged with possession of a controlled substance and driving under the influence after an investigation showed three different prescription drugs in her system while driving a Mount Carmel Area school bus that was involved in a hit-and-run accident May 19.
Kulpmont Police charged Melissa J. Tehansky, 37, of RR 2, Coal Township Friday with nine criminal offenses and five traffic citations following the two-week probe into the crash.
Chief Richard L. Wilson III reported in court documents that police were dispatched at 4:07 p.m. to investigate a school bus that was swerving along Route 61 and allegedly went through a red light in Kulpmont. A second caller told 911 operators the bus struck a road sign, knocking off a mirror, which Wilson later found lying in the 1100 block of Chestnut Street (Route 61) in Kulpmont.
No students were in the bus when the accident occurred.
The bus was located as it was being parked in a dirt lot near the Plumbing Outlet in Coal Township a few miles from Kulpmont. Tehansky was inside, police said, talking on her cellular phone with the bus engine running.
After police got her out of the vehicle, they reported that she had an unsteady walk, was nervous and fidgety, and had difficulty explaining where she was coming from.
Tehansky told police she did recall knocking the passenger-side mirror off the vehicle, but thought she struck a tree branch in Mount Carmel Estates, not the utility pole in Kulpmont.
Antidepressant in system
Police administered field sobriety tests, while Shamokin City Police patrolman Darwin Tobias searched Tehansky’s purse, and various prescription pills were found, according to Wilson’s filing. They were reported as three hydroxyzine pamoate capsules, used for the short-term treatment of nervousness and tension, in a clear cellophane wrapper; five Effexor pills, an antidepressant, loose in an inside pouch of her purse; a prescription bottle of suboxone, used to treat narcotic dependence, containing 6 3/4 pills; and 3 1/2 alprazolam pills, also known as Xanax, used to treat anxiety and panic disorders, found in a clear cellophane wrapper.
Tehansky was placed under arrest and evaluated at the Kulpmont Police Station by State Police Trooper Thomas Hornung, a drug recognition expert stationed at the Schuylkill Haven barracks. She was then taken to Shamokin Area Community Hospital for blood testing.
The results showed that Tehansky had Xanax, the antidepressant Prozac and another antidepressant in her system at the time of the accident, according to police.
Turns self in
Tehansky turned herself in at the Mount Carmel office of Magisterial District Judge Hugh Jones and was arraigned Friday afternoon. She was charged with three counts of possession of a misbranded drug, two counts of possession of a controlled substance and charges of driving under the influence of a controlled substance, driving under the influence of a controlled substance while operating a commercial vehicle, school bus or school vehicle, endangering the welfare of children and recklessly endangering another person, all misdemeanors.
She was also cited for driving on roadways laned for traffic, failure to observe traffic signals, accidents involving damage to unattended property, failure to drive on the right side of the roadway and reckless driving.
She was released on $20,000 unsecured bail, which means no bail needed to be produced, but failure to show for court hearings will reinstate the bail amount. She is scheduled for a preliminary hearing on Wednesday.
Representatives for Marvin E. Klinger Inc. of Dornsife, the contracted company Mount Carmel Area School District uses for transporting students, reported earlier that Tehansky has been suspended from her bus driving position while the investigation continues. Cheryl Latorre, Mount Carmel Area superintendent, said earlier that Tehansky has been taken off all Mount Carmel Area school bus routes.