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Drunk Hit-and-Run Driver Tracked to His Home, Cops Say

Morris Township man followed home by owner of vehicle he allegedly struck.

A 22-year-old man who was allegedly drunk when he struck a pickup truck and fled the scene was arrested after the truck's owner followed him to his Morris Township home, police said.

Ryan Barnett, of Sussex Avenue, was arrested and charged with driving while intoxicated, careless driving, leaving the scene of an accident and failure to report an accident shortly after 2 a.m. on Dec. 23.

According to a report filed by officer Adam Khoudja, he and Sgt. Richard Lamperti responded to the Midtown Shopping Center parking lot on Morris Street where a large crowd of people had gathered, telling police they had just seen a dark-colored Cadillac hit a pickup truck and then take off at a high rate of speed.

The pickup truck, occupied at the time of the accident, followed the Cadillac out of the parking lot, according to police.

A 911 call then came in from the driver of the pickup truck, stating he was following the Cadillac that had hit his vehicle, according to the report. The driver of the pickup truck continued to advise county dispatch of his location until arriving at a Sussex Avenue residence, the report said.

Khoudja observed a black Cadillac in the driveway matching the description and license plate number provided by the witnesses, the report said. Its hood was hot to the touch, indicating it had been driven recently, and there was what appeared to be recent damage to its driver's side turn signal area, according to his report.

Khoudja spoke with a person identified as the roommate of the man driving the Cadillac and directed him to his room, where he found a man—later identified as Barnett—laying on his bed, according to the report.

Barnett, fully clothed, appeared to be sleeping, but Khoudja noticed he was sweating and breathing heavily, according to his report.

When officers called Barnett by name he sprang up and appeared surprised, according to police. Officers explained the situation to Barnett, who said, "I don't know anything about that," according to the report.

Barnett said he had been in town drinking with friends, but had not driven home, the report said. When asked how he got home, he first said a taxi service had taken him home, the report said. When police contacted the specific taxi service, they said no one had been dropped off on Sussex Avenue that night, according to police.

Barnett then said a friend had driven him home but when asked for a name, he could not say who it was right away, eventually saying it had been someone named "Sebastian," according to the report.

Barnett eventually admitted having driven the Cadillac that night and while he could not recall hitting the parked vehicle, he apologized and said he would pay for any damages, according to the report.

After being placed under arrest following a series of field sobriety tests, Barnett admitted to having drank several beers, rum and coke drinks and several tequilla shots at The Dark Horse Lounge and Tashmoo on DeHart Street, according to the report.

A breath test performed at Morristown Police headquarters indicated Barnett had a Blood Alcohol Content level of .18 percent—more than double the legal limit of .08 percent. He was later released into the custody of a family member.

For questions about this post, email john.dunphy@patch.com.

Yolanda Navarrete Mendez January 23, 2013 at 01:02 PM
This may not be a popular comment, and I believe driving drunk is one of the most dangerous issues we face today. It makes being in a car life-threatening. That being said, however, I can't help but cringe as I read about this individual who gave himself in by speaking up to the police, instead of letting them do their job and prove his guilt. He probably did not know he was making his situation worse by doing so. In a situation as this, one has the right to remain silent, anything that is said can and will be held against him. Not enough people exercise this.

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