WEATHER FROM OUR SPONSORS
SHERIDAN — A Sheridan man pleaded guilty to the charges of hit and run and texting while driving after an early morning traffic accident damaged three parked vehicles in the TTT Sales parking lot off of Coffeen Avenue over the weekend.
Levi Rockafellow, 29, was assigned fines totaling $665 and one year of unsupervised probation by Sheridan Municipal Court Judge John Botten Wednesday morning.
Rockafellow was arrested Saturday after he had returned to the dealership to provide his insurance information. He told police he was driving home from a bar at approximately 12:30 a.m. and had received a text message. He attempted to read it while traveling south on Coffeen Avenue and left the roadway and ran into the vehicle display.
“I got the text, and by the time I looked up, I was hitting cars,” Rockafellow told Botten, classifying the collision as “skimming the front” of the vehicles for sale. The accident caused damage to a Buick passenger car, a Pontiac minivan and a Ford F150 pickup.
The windshield and a body emblem of Rockafellow’s Toyota truck was left at the scene. Sheridan Police Sgt. Travis Koltiska said the damage at the scene of the accident suggested no breaking before the collision with the parked vehicles.
The speed limit on Coffeen Avenue is 30 miles per hour.
City prosecutor Brendon Kerns indicated Rockafellow told investigators he had consumed alcohol earlier in the evening, but had been drinking water for a few hours before driving home. He also told police he didn’t realize his windshield was missing when he drove an additional six miles home after the accident.
The next morning, the owners of TTT sales notified police of the damage to their inventory. That same afternoon, Rockafellow appeared at the business to provide his liability insurance information. Police charged Rockafellow with the hit and run because he did not immediately notify authorities or leave a note at the time of the collision.
Rockafellow was tracked down by police and arrested that same day outside of the My Buddy’s Place bar on North Main Street.
Saturday’s accident was the second time Rockafellow has been cited for hit and run. In the past five years, he has also been convicted of two separate incidents of driving under the influence and one charge each of public intoxication and fighting outside a bar.
In addition to paying fines to the court and restitution to TTT Sales, which will likely be covered by insurance, Botton assigned Rockafellow one year of unsupervised probation with stipulations that he must not consume or possess alcohol or enter bars and liquor stores.
Botton also directed Rockefellow to be screened for alcohol abuse and stressed the past weekend’s incident should be used as an opportunity to make major life changes.
“You can turn it around right away, right now,” Botton told Rockafellow.
Rockafellow, who said in court he has previously been treated for alcoholism, agreed with the judge.
“It’s time to quit,” he said. “I don’t want my whole life going down the drain.”