WILKES-BARRE – A search warrant affidavit filed Monday says city police seized a Ford F350 pickup truck believed linked to a fatal hit-and-run last month without a warrant after the vacationing truck owner's family and friends refused to provide his cellphone number. .
Police took custody of the large blue pickup, which is registered to Daniel Loughnane, from his residence at 71 W. Liberty St., Hanover Township, Thursday night, 16 days after Rebecca McCallick, 19, was struck by a vehicle on Hazle Avenue, Wilkes-Barre.
The search warrant, signed by District Judge Martin Kane in Wilkes-Barre, allows police to search the truck for evidence and DNA "under and above the vehicle." Police further asked to inspect the ignition and engine sound.
The truck was impounded Thursday night without a warrant, a situation likely to be argued by a defense attorney if any charges are filed.
Police said in the affidavit the truck was seized to preserve evidence when efforts to locate Loughnane were unsuccessful Thursday night.
The affidavit alleges Loughnane's family and employees and patrons at Liam's Place, a tavern Loughnane owns on North Washington Street, refused to cooperate in providing Loughnane's cellphone number to police Thursday night.
Other reasons police provided in the affidavit for taking the truck without a warrant was the lateness of the hour, it was not known by police if anyone had access to the vehicle and keys were found in a toolbox in the truck's bed, according to the affidavit.
"There were reasons why," Luzerne County District Attorney Stefanie Salavantis said about impounding the truck without a warrant. "We researched it whether or not it was permitted. We found that it would be based on the facts of this investigation."
Salavantis said it would be premature to release more information due to the ongoing investigation.
The affidavit alleges McCallick's boyfriend, John Schenck, told police they were arguing when she ran out of their apartment at 199 Hazle Ave. early in the morning of July 24.
Schenck told police he was yelling from a second-floor window at McCallick to get off the road when he saw a vehicle speeding up Hazle Avenue and striking McCallick, the affidavit states.
McCallick died at Geisinger Wyoming Valley Medical Center in Plains Township.
Schenck described the vehicle as having a high clearance, a loud diesel engine and chrome on the exterior.
Police allege in the affidavit that Schenck on Thursday night identified the Ford when it was parked at Loughnane's residence.
Loughnane is represented by attorney Peter Paul Olszewski Jr., who couldn't be reached for comment on Monday.
When the truck was impounded, attorney Peter Moses was acting as a liaison between Loughnane and police.
No one answered the door at Loughnane's residence on Monday.
A Facebook posting on Friday indicated Loughnane was vacationing at Lake Ontario, Canada, for two weeks and left on Aug. 6, a day before police released a picture of a "vehicle of interest" that was taken by a surveillance camera a few minutes before McCallick was struck. Loughnane's Facebook page has since been taken down.
Moses said Monday morning he understood Loughnane was in Iowa when police impounded the Ford.
No charges have been filed.