Police: Man high on drugs crashes with son in vehicle

An Ashville man was high when he wrecked a van carrying his 8-year-old son, Altoona police allege.

Marc A. Cook, 146 Maple St., was charged this week with driving under the influence of drugs, endangering the welfare of a child and recklessly endangering another person, along with driving on a DUI suspended license and other traffic violations stemming from a crash June 12 at 18th Street and 24th Avenue, records show.

According to police, Cook ran over a street sign at about 9 p.m. in a Ford Winstar minivan and drove away from the scene.

A large group of witnesses were gathered around the crash scene when Altoona police arrived and while officers talked with people, a witness ran up and said he had found the minivan on the 2300 block of 19th Street, police noted.

The van, police said, had a large “gash” in the middle of the hood, both airbags had deployed and the sign post was stuck underneath the vehicle. The boy, police said, complained of jaw pain.

Initially, Cook, who police said suffered a black eye and cut to his forehead, claimed a friend of his had been driving and had run off, charges indicate. Cook claimed he then pulled the van onto 19th Street because it was a safer location to park it, police added.

Witnesses, however, told police they never saw anyone get out of the van before it drove off and when police then spoke to the child alone, the boy confirmed officers’ suspicions that Cook was driving, police said.

Cook continued to say he wasn’t driving but ultimately admitted he was behind the wheel and had run off the road because he had turned around to check on his son, who was sitting in a child safety seat in the back, according to police.

Officers said that Cook had slow, slurred speech and appeared unsteady on his feet but did not smell of alcohol. Police asked Cook if he took any prescription medication, and he allegedly told officers he was prescribed the antipsychotic drug Seroquel, the muscle relaxant Flexeril and the anti-anxiety drug Klonopin.

Cook refused to submit to a blood test, so police sought and received a search warrant for his urine, records indicate. A subsequent urine test revealed the presence of Klonopin and cannabis in Cook’s system at the time of the crash, police said.

The boy was turned over to his mother, and Blair County Children, Youth & Families Services were notified of the incident, according to court records.

Cook was charged via summons and is due to appear at Central Court for a preliminary hearing before Magisterial District Judge Todd Kelly on July 10.