Savoy man told police he 'panicked' after hitting bicyclist in Urbana

Savoy man told police he 'panicked' after hitting bicyclist in Urbana

URBANA — A Savoy man told police he knew he had hit a bicyclist in southeast Urbana on Monday but “panicked” and took off.

Mitchell J. Snodgrass, 22, faces penalties ranging from probation to 12 years in prison if convicted of hitting a bicyclist while allegedly driving drunk and failing to stop to help the man.

Snodgrass was arrested Monday night at his home on Hartwell Court by Illinois State Police, who found a car with plates matching information given by witnesses who saw Jonathon Parrish, 28, hit on High Cross Road about 8:10 p.m.

On Tuesday, the state’s attorney’s office charged Snodgrass with two counts alleging aggravated driving under the influence of alcohol and one of failure to report an accident involving injury.

Urbana police investigator Sgt. Matt Bain said he and other detectives tried to interview Parrish Tuesday morning, but he was still sedated and unable to talk. Barring any serious medical setbacks, Parrish was expected to survive his injuries, Bain said.

In court, Assistant State’s Attorney Brooke Hinman told Judge John Kennedy that Parrish suffered broken ribs, a broken nose and swelling on the brain and currently had a chest tube inserted.

Snodgrass told a state trooper that he realized he hit a bicyclist but “panicked,” Bain said.

“He said he was scared and left. He confessed to his wrongdoing,” said Bain, who had Urbana colleagues re-interview Snodgrass on Tuesday.

They learned he had been drinking at an Urbana bar prior to the collision on High Cross Road. Preliminary tests revealed he had a breath-alcohol concentration of 0.168, twice the 0.08 limit for an Illinois motorist to be presumed intoxicated.

Because Parrish sustained injuries, Snodgrass had to submit to blood and urine tests.

Bain said the three bicyclists were riding south in a single line on High Cross between Washington Avenue and Windsor Road when Snodgrass, who was also southbound, hit Parrish, the last of the three bicyclists. Police said it was dark at the time of the collision.

"We had at least two people stop who were right there when it happened. One happened to be a nurse and she was able to give a pretty good description. She got out and called 911 and helped” Parrish, Bain said.

State troopers arrested Snodgrass while Urbana detectives investigated the mechanics of the crash.

Coincidentally, Urbana detectives Dave Roesch and Doug Pipkins attended a school last week on pedestrian- and bicycle-crash investigation. Both were called to assist in the investigation.

Although the charges of aggravated driving under the influence are Class 4 felonies, they carry penalties upon conviction ranging from probation to one to 12 years in prison. Failure to report an injury accident is a Class 2 felony with penalties ranging from probation to three to seven years in prison.

Snodgrass’ attorney, Mark Lipton of Champaign, said his client had no prior criminal convictions and is employed as an apprentice plumber.

Kennedy set bond at $125,000 and told Snodgrass to be back in court June 6. Snodgrass posted bond and was released from the county jail Tuesday afternoon.

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