The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Local News

January 15, 2010

Police: DUI suspect said he lacked legs

BERLIN — A man who crashed his car tried to talk his way out of a drunken driving charge by claiming he had no legs and was dying, borough police said.

Melvin R. Burkett, 66, of Berlin, ran his Ford Festiva into a snowbank on Eighth Avenue on Jan. 4.

A court document said Burkett told the officer who responded that he was unable to take a field sobriety test because he had no legs and could not take a blood test because he was dying.

“Burkett had two legs perfectly attached to his body,” police said.

Burkett told the officer he was driving home from the New National Hotel when he ran into the snowbank and got stuck. He also said he had no driver’s license, insurance or valid vehicle registration.

Asked about his drinking, Burkett told police, “I had one too many,” the document said.

The officer handcuffed Burkett and placed him in the rear of the patrol car. While waiting for a tow truck, the officer said he noticed Burkett turning his head as if talking to someone.

As Burkett was being taken to Somerset Hospital for a blood test, the officer said he heard the following discussion from the back seat:

“Oh damn, there goes my gun.”

“Well, aren’t you going to shoot him?”

“No, I am not going to shoot him. He has been nice to me.”

“Well, I think you should shoot him.”

The officer said he stopped the car at the hospital entrance, drew his gun and opened the back door. There was no one in the vehicle but Burkett and no gun was found.

Once inside the hospital, Burkett first said he could not give blood because he was dying and needed a heart transplant, though he later consented. His blood-alcohol level measured 0.261 percent, well above the 0.08 percent legal limit for drivers in Pennsylvania.

Burkett was charged with driving under the influence of alcohol and numerous traffic violations.

He is scheduled to appear before District Judge Douglas Bell of Meyersdale on Feb. 11 to answer the charges.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Local News
  • smothers ‘It breaks my heart’: Shooting victim’s death leaves trail of shattered lives

    Victoria Smothers knows what people thought when they heard that a young black male had been shot to death in Moxham last week.

    April 16, 2014 2 Photos

  • School violence studied

    On a typical day last year, Pennsylvania schools caught 11 students toting weapons similar to ones used to slash 21 students and a security guard at a Pittsburgh-area high school, according to the state Department of Education. An untold number of others likely brought weapons to school but weren’t caught, safety experts say.

    April 16, 2014

  • Home is Where The Tribune-Democrat is Delivered!

    April 16, 2014

  • egg hunt17 ACRP quietly notes 25th anniversary

    There will be little or no fanfare accompanying Alternative Community Resource Program’s 25th anniversary.
    And that’s how the executive director, Frank Janakovic, wants it.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • windber17 Windber students earn top ‘Overchiever’ rank

    Windber Area school’s PSSA scores have been tops in the region for the past several years.
    This year, they’re among the head of the class statewide, Pittsburgh Business Times annual Schools Guide shows.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Wise, Charles Police charge bank robbery suspect

    A Johnstown man was jailed on $250,000 bond after police said he robbed the West End Branch of AmeriServ Financial. Charles Wise, 48, of Barron Avenue, was charged with two counts of robbery.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Inmate awaits sentencing for assault on guard

    A former inmate faces up to 15 years in prison when he is sentenced for assaulting a corrections officer at State Correctional Institution-Somerset, authorities said.

    April 16, 2014

  • windber pool Pool stays afloat despite troubles

    When a valve broke at the Windber Recreation Park pool last month, its municipal authority caretakers feared that meant the end for the pool’s aged, much-patched liner.
    But the old liner has held up – a stroke of luck that will save Windber Municipal Authority from having to seek a line of credit to cover repairs or risk delaying the pool opening, the authority’s recreation director, C.W. Beckley, said.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Creativity blossoming for spring art show

    The 16th annual Art in Bloom spring art show will brighten the Cambria County Courthouse in Ebensburg from noon to 6 p.m. April 26 and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. April 27.

    April 16, 2014

  • Alcatraz Challenge offers escape from routine

    Greater Johnstown Community YMCA is gearing up for its indoor biathlon, the Alcatraz Challenge.

    April 16, 2014


Do you think that Jack Williams will get the 270 signatures from city residents needed in order to have a referendum placed on a municipal ballot to have the city's pressure test mandate repealed?

I'm not sure
     View Results
House Ads