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What you need to know for 01/23/2017

Man accused of bumping ranger with truck at Saratoga Battlefield

Man accused of bumping ranger with truck at Saratoga Battlefield

An intoxicated man in a pickup truck refused to leave Saratoga Battlefield last week and then intent

An intoxicated man in a pickup truck refused to leave Saratoga Battlefield last week and then intentionally backed into a park ranger, authorities said.

The ranger was identified as Timothy P. Whelan in papers filed in U.S. District Court in Albany. No injuries were mentioned in the papers, but Whelan wrote in an affidavit that he had to twice jump on the truck’s bumper to avoid getting run over.

Arrested after a brief chase from the park was Ethan M. Lawas, 49, of Gansevoort. He faces one federal felony count of assaulting, resisting or interfering with a federal officer.

Lawas is accused of assaulting Whelan with a truck — backing up and striking the ranger as he investigated Lawas for being in the park after-hours.

“I maintained eye contact through the rear mirror with Lawas as he continued to back the truck,” Whelan wrote in court paperwork of the incident. “He looked at me, looked away, and then looked back at me as he backed the truck. I repeatedly yelled for Lawas to stop and he did not stop or hesitate.”

The incident happened around 7:40 p.m. Aug. 28 in the visitor’s center parking lot at the Saratoga National Historical Park in Stillwater. The park includes the Saratoga Battlefield.

Court paperwork gave the following account:

Whelan and a colleague identified only as Ranger Zaman spotted a man in a pickup truck after the park had closed. The two rangers approached the driver to inform him that the park had closed and visitors had to leave.

Whelan approached the passenger side and Zaman the driver side. Lawas was alone in the truck.

When Zaman told Lawas the park was closed, Lawas turned his attention to Whelan, whom he seemed to recognize. “Hi, Tim, it’s me,” Lawas said to Whelan, then told Zaman, “I know him.”

By that time, Whelan had spotted at least three open beer cans on the passenger side floor. Whelan asked about them and Lawas replied they were just old cans.

Whelan asked Lawas to roll down the passenger window. Lawas did, about 2 inches. Whelan smelled a strong odor of alcohol. Lawas admitted to drinking one or two beers after a bike ride in the park.

Whelan asked Lawas to get out of the truck. Lawas protested and eventually rolled up both windows and locked the doors, according to the complaint.

Whelan then went behind the vehicle to get his attention from the driver’s side.

“While I was immediately behind the vehicle I heard the ignition start,” Whelan wrote. “I looked at the truck rear view mirror and made eye contact with Lawas and I yelled to him to get out of the vehicle and stop.”

Lawas didn’t get out and he didn’t stop, Whelan wrote. Instead, he backed up.

The truck tailgate and bumper hit Whelan’s left arm and leg. Whelan continued to yell for Lawas to stop, and jumped onto the rear bumper to avoid being hit again.

After about 10 feet, the truck stopped and Whelan jumped off. Lawas continued, hitting Whelan again. The ranger jumped back onto the truck to avoid being run over.

Zaman returned to his patrol car and went to block the exit. Lawas then put the truck in drive and went to leave. Whelan jumped off.

At the exit, Lawas drove over a curb to get around Zaman’s vehicle and fled the park. Both rangers pursued with lights and siren on. State police soon stopped Lawas in Schuylerville. He allegedly had a blood alcohol content of 0.12 percent. The legal threshold for intoxication in New York state is 0.08 percent.

The charge was filed Friday in U.S. District Court in Albany. Lawas was arraigned and released on conditions.

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