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Ready by the river

Hancock County deputies do it all

TOW — Employees from Nick’s Towing and Conrail work near an abandoned Chevy pickup truck, which is being towed along the tracks at the base of a state Route 2 hill. The railroad employees were on hand to examine the crash area to make sure there was no damage to the tracks. Hancock County deputies are still investigating. -- Stephanie Ujhelyi

NEW CUMBERLAND — At the top of the Northern Panhandle, deputies are prepared for almost everything; however, they still can be surprised by some of it.

Hancock County police cruisers are equipped with dash cameras, which are an integral part of their policing effort, serving to assure quality control of the service they provide as well as counteract any bogus allegations of inappropriate behavior by deputies.

Scott Gittings was elected Hancock County sheriff last year and took oversight of the department in 2021.

During a typical shift on a recent Saturday, Hancock County sheriff’s deputy Patrick Hoder responded to a little bit of everything.

Hoder, who is a K-9 officer partnered with 3-year-old partner Bronco, found himself doing a variety of tasks along with three other deputies and a supervisor on afternoon shift. Some of them were more administrative like trying to coordinate a woman’s weekend surrender on a domestic violence warrant, while others found him responding to Mountaineer Casino to investigate the attempted passing of a counterfeit $100 bill in a gaming machine.

While in the High Acres Drive area of Chester, backing up city Ptl. Donnie Blankenship on a call, Hoder decided to follow Blankenship to a neighbor dispute over a parking complaint in downtown Chester before swinging by Mountaineer to collect the fake $100, which will be sent to the Secret Service.

However, he soon found himself dispatched, with the rest of the deputies on shift, to the discovery of an abandoned pickup truck. At the start of their shift, deputies had discussed seeing the skid marks but no vehicle on state Route 2 and briefly investigated the immediate area on their way into work. Several hours into their shift, a dispatcher received a call of the truck’s probable whereabouts after a passing train almost clipped it near the tracks at the base of the hill where it apparently met its final resting place after losing control.

There were no occupants in the truck despite its significant drop to near the tracks, which run along the Ohio River.

Deputies would spend several hours at the site, providing traffic control and waiting for a tow crew from Nick’s and Conrail to remove it from near the tracks, so train traffic could continue. The task took several hours and plenty of chains and cables attached to the vehicle, which was thousands of feet away from where they could safely get the tow truck. As of last check, there was still no additional information on the vehicle or its owner, who had not reported it stolen.

The Vehicle Information Number revealed the Chevy pickup’s owner to be a Canton-area man, according to Gittings.

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