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Hit-and-run driver at casino was traced through broken car part, police say

By Len Righi, WFMZ.com Reporter
Published On: Sep 30 2013 10:47:40 PM CDT
BETHLEHEM, Pa. -

A hit-and-run driver who struck a pedestrian in the Sands casino parking garage in Bethlehem was traced through surveillance video and a cracked reflector lens, officials said.

Brian T. Purcell took off after hitting 31-year-old Donna Saar-Almodovar as he rounded a corner on the sixth floor of the Sands casino parking garage, 77 Sands Boulevard, Bethlehem, in his silver 2004 Jaguar X30 at about 2:20 a.m. Saturday, officials said.

Saar-Almodovar was taken to the hospital with an injured left hip and back after she was struck by the Jaguar's right front fender and knocked to the ground, officials said.

A witness said Saar-Almodovar was part of a group of people going to their vehicles when Jaguar's driver raced by, beeped his horn at them and raised his middle finger, official noted.

At about 3 a.m., casino security gave police surveillance video showing the incident, and about a half-hour later investigators were knocking on the door and window of Purcell's home at 1810 Watkins St., Bethlehem, trying to rouse the suspect, who was asleep on a couch, officials said.

Purcell, who had bloodshot eyes and was unsteady on his feet, told police he honked at "a bunch of kids" who walked in front of his car and gave him the finger while he was leaving the casino garage, but he denied hitting anyone, officials said.

However, police found a piece of a broken yellow lens cover left at the accident scene fit a cracked yellow lens cover on the Jaguar parked outside Purcell's home, officials noted.

Purcell, 28, was arraigned on charges of leaving the scene of an accident, DUI and careless driving and released on $5,000 unsecured bail, according to court documents.

A preliminary hearing is set for 9 a.m. Oct. 4.