Three witnesses took the stand to testify for the state in the matter of a Washington Township resident accused of leaving the scene of an accident on Christmas night 2013, resulting in an hours-long manhunt.
Police charged Melvin Travis, 50, with leaving the scene of an accident, failure to report an accident, careless driving, and failure to maintain lane after a patrolman found the resident’s car crashed into a guardrail on the southbound side of Schooley’s Mountain Road around 11 p.m. that night.
Due to the cold weather conditions eyewitness account at the scene of the crash, a search was conducted by the Morris County Sheriff’s K-9 Unit for Travis, but to no avail.
In the early hours of Dec. 26, Travis made phone contact with Officer Myers after the search through Schooley's Mountain woods had concluded.
Represented by attorney Thomas Fischer of the law firm Broscious, Fischer & Zaiter, Travis appeared in Washington Township Municipal Court last week for the first time since the incident, according to Deputy Clerk Erin Flannery.
Officer Scott Myers, who was the first patrolman on the scene, as well the shift supervisor, Sgt. Jeff Almer, both took the stand for the state. A third witness, Scott McDonald, also testified against Travis in court, Flannery said.
McDonald gave Myers an eyewitness account at the scene that night, and then a written statement a few days later, where he stated Travis fled the scene on foot once the aiding motorist called police. McDonald also said in the statement that Travis told him he had fallen asleep before the crash, and “had a few drinks” that night.
Despite the testimony, municipal court judge Frank Leanza did not make his ruling that night, and scheduled his decision for May 29, Flannery said.
Travis is currently employed as a school bus driver for the Washington Township School district. While there are certain driving violations and offenses that could result in the suspension of a commercial driver’s license – needed to operate a school bus – no decision on Travis’ employment will be made until after the ruling, according to transportation director Paul Henry.
“It’s really too premature to say anything regarding the situation,” Henry said, and that a decision, if any, won’t be made until after the May 29 ruling.