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Moped crash injuries pedestrian, fleeing driver charged

BY KEITH EPPS / THE FREE LANCE-STAR

A Fredericksburg man was injured and charged with two felonies Monday after he crashed a moped into a pedestrian and fled from the scene, police said.

City police spokeswoman Natatia Bledsoe said the 21-year-old victim was walking on the Rappahannock Heritage Trail with her boyfriend about 7:10 p.m. when they prepared to cross the 1800 block of Princess Anne Street.

Several motorists were stopped at the crosswalk along the popular trail to let the pedestrian cross when a moped swerved around the stopped vehicles and knocked the young woman onto the pavement.

The suspect then left the moped lying in the street and ran toward the nearby Hardee's restaurant.

The woman never lost consciousness, but suffered a head injury and numerous scrapes and bruises to her face, arms and legs. She was taken by ambulance to Mary Washington Hospital.

During the investigation, another woman showed up and claimed that the moped was hers. She said she had left it outside her residence in the 1600 block of Charles Street and that someone had stolen it.

A short time later, an anonymous caller called police and gave the name of the moped driver, who turned out to be the owner's boyfriend.

About 8:30 p.m., Bledsoe said, another anonymous caller reported that the suspect was hiding in the back yard of the home he shares with his girlfriend.

Police found the suspect and took him to the hospital to be treated for a possible broken elbow and other injuries.

Thomas William Johnson, 42, was charged with felony hit and run, felony driving on a revoked license, reckless driving and public intoxication. He will be arrested following his release from the hospital.

His girlfriend, 45-year-old Melissa Gerke, was charged with obstruction of justice. Gerke was released on her own recognizance.

Court records show that Johnson's criminal record includes a felony assault conviction last year in which Gerke was the victim.

Keith Epps: 540/374-5404

kepps@freelancestar.com

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