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Police: Man high when he crashed

Stetter faces DUI, related charges

An Altoona man faces charges after police say he was high on methamphetamine when he crashed a Ford Expedition through the wall of a garage after hitting a parked vehicle.

According to charges filed by Altoona police, 38-year-old Robert W. Stetter was behind the wheel of a Ford Expedition when it struck a parked Chevrolet Equinox and then drove through the wall of a garage at 414 Fifth Ave. about 2 p.m. Thursday.

Police indicated that three other people, including an 11-year-old, were in the SUV with Stetter when he crashed. Two people were in the Equinox, which was parked in the parking lot of Notary Copy Shop.

Responding Altoona Fire Department firefighters who were working to deal with the growing smoke inside the garage because of the SUV’s still-spinning tires, found Stetter “curled up and lying on the ground inside the garage,” Altoona police Patrolman Eric Heuston wrote in the charges.

Firefighters walked Stetter out of the garage and police said he was “uneasy on his feet” and bloody because of a cut to his right arm. Police said a firefighter had to hold onto Stetter’s arm because he tried to walk away from the scene and when police tried to detain him, Stetter allegedly pulled away and grabbed onto a fire truck.

Police said Stetter wouldn’t let go of the fire truck and at one point pushed off the truck when police tried to get his hands behind his back. Stetter was pulled from the truck after an officer used his knee to hit Stetter’s leg, according to the charges.

A small bag of methamphetamine was found in Stetter’s pocket and he “spoke in incoherent ramblings and continued to be non-compliant with officers’ and AMED’s commands,” police noted in the charges. Stetter was strapped to a gurney because he was unable “to sit still,” police added.

Stetter’s girlfriend told police that about two hours before the crash, Stetter and she smoked methamphetamine. She said Stetter was driving her, another woman and her 11-year-old son when Stetter turned onto Fourth Street from Sixth Avenue after another driver was tailgating him.

Stetter’s girlfriend told police he stopped the SUV in the middle of the street while looking off to the side. When Stetter turned to face forward again, he stepped on the gas pedal and accelerated into the parked Equinox and kept accelerating until it drove through the garage’s wall.

The girlfriend said she thought they were going to die as they struck the garage.

The 11-year-old had minor cuts and police said there was black soot on the child’s knees and shirt. The other woman passenger was taken to UPMC Altoona where she told police Stetter had smoked methamphetamine earlier in the day and that the SUV accelerated throughout the crash. No one was wearing a seat belt, she told police.

The Equinox was a total loss, and a car parked in the garage was also damaged in the crash, police said.

Stetter was taken to UPMC Altoona, where he again had to be restrained by hospital personnel, police said. Police were getting a search warrant for Stetter’s blood samples to find out what drugs he was on at the time of the crash, according to the charges.

Stetter is charged with felony count of endangering the welfare of a child along with misdemeanor counts that include DUI, accidents involving death or personal injury, recklessly endangering another person, obstruction of law enforcement and drug possession.

Stetter was released from the hospital and arraigned Friday morning by Magisterial District Judge Fred Miller, who set bail at $15,000 cash. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Wednesday at Central Court.

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