Imagine you have a 17-year-old son or daughter and he/she came home after a car accident and said, “I waited in a parking lot for the person I hit to come and exchange information, they never did, so I left.”
Would you believe him or her? Frankly, my son is 29 and I wouldn’t believe him if he told me this story today. And, if you believe it you likely entered your kid in youth sports leagues that didn’t keep score and gave trophies to all.
Apparently, that’s the kind of story Haddon Township Commissioner Paul Dougherty wants you to believe.
Yesterday the Courier-Post, after obtaining the police report of a car accident involving Commissioner Paul Dougherty, published another story on the issue and Dougherty’s tale makes little sense.
To be clear, I am not making any accusations, I’m simply saying Commissioner Dougherty’s story makes little sense and leaves many unanswered questions.
This is a guy with an interesting past. We covered it here. With that past, questions have to be asked.
According to published reports, Commissioner Dougherty rear-ended another car at the intersection of Cuthbert Blvd and Haddon Ave., this is not disputed. Dougherty told police he pulled into the Walgreen’s parking lot and went home after the driver he hit did not appear. One has to ask, and the Camden County Republicans have asked, how long did Dougherty wait?
If he waited any length of time it would have been obvious the other car was not moving. Cuthbert Blvd, where multiple sources say the crash happened is clearly visible from the Walgreen’s parking lot.
Trying to be fair to Dougherty, let’s give him the benefit of the doubt and say he waited for 5 minutes before leaving the parking lot. In that amount of time the police certainly would have been on their way so it is highly likely he would have seen the flashing lights.
Whatever amount of time he waited it is likely Dougherty exited the other driveway of the Walgreens parking lot and made a right turn onto Haddon Avenue to make the 2-minute drive to his home. He lives a half mile from the parking lot according to another published report.
Completely left out of this controversy is multiple sources have confirmed Dougherty was seen attending “The Rockets Take On Crystal Lake Pool” event sponsored by the Haddon Township Business Improvement District. This event ended 15 minutes prior to the accident.
The fact Dougherty attended that event just adds to the controversy of this story. Given the fact there was a beer garden at the event it would make sense he would have been given a blood or breath test for alcohol, which he wasn’t according to a published report. Then again, an experienced prosecutor would know the old trick of running home and reporting an accident and explaining after police arrived that one took a drink to calm one’s nerves. It’s likely the reason a blood or breath test wasn’t administered is cops know that old trick too.
To be clear, I am not alleging Dougherty was drinking, but given the fact his own police department has, after a vote of no confidence, stated publicly that he had been found to be in a "suspected state of intoxication" on several occasions the question has to be asked.
This man is a municipal prosecutor in at least three towns in Camden County. He knows better than to leave the scene of an accident. He prosecutes people for leaving the scene of accidents.
In keeping with the assumption Dougherty sat in the Walgreen’s parking lot for 5 minutes and then made the 2-minute drive home, given the fact one of the published reports states he called police “about 20 minutes” after the accident, there are still 13 minutes unaccounted for. What did Dougherty do in that 13 minutes?
An even better question is why didn’t Dougherty call police from the parking lot? One theory is he didn’t have his cell phone, but he could have walked into the Walgreens and asked to use the phone and still not violated the law by leaving the scene of an accident.
Anyone who knows that intersection knows calling 9-1-1 from a cell phone is a crap shoot and you may end up getting the Collingswood Police Department. Is it possible Dougherty didn’t call police from the parking lot because he didn’t want to have to deal with a neighboring town’s cops?
As you can see there are just too many unanswered questions, especially from a guy with a controversial past. We’re going to keep an eye on this story as things continue to develop.