Facing trial for a 2014 vehicular assault, Ryan Patrick McHugh skipped bail in February, authorities say
By William Kenny
When an accused drunken driver from the Northeast allegedly struck and killed a mother of two on Aramingo Avenue earlier this month, he was wanted for skipping bail in a 2014 case in which he allegedly used a truck to run down another motorist.
Ryan Patrick McHugh, 39, reappeared before Common Pleas Court Judge Edward C. Wright on Wednesday as a prosecutor asked the court to revoke the defendant’s $50,000 bail in the 2014 case. Wright agreed, ordering that McHugh be jailed pending a trial next April 11.
According to Assistant District Attorney William Fritze, McHugh had been officially on the lam since last Feb. 17, when he failed to appear for a status hearing in Wright’s courtroom. The judge issued a bench warrant for McHugh’s arrest that day.
The warrant followed a series of delays in the case requested by McHugh’s defense attorney, who cited McHugh’s participation in drug treatment for his inability to make it to court. After one such delay on Jan. 25, Wright ordered the defense to produce evidence of McHugh’s attendance at a rehab program. But the defense offered no such proof at the next court date, and McHugh became a fugitive.
On June 10, McHugh allegedly was intoxicated and behind the wheel of a 2003 Dodge Durango when he struck and killed Rosa Lydia Rojas, 28, while injuring her 7-year-old son, Jadiyn, on the 3500 block of Aramingo Avenue in Port Richmond. Rojas’ daughter, Leani, 9, witnessed the fatal crash.
Police said that the victims were walking southbound on the sidewalk at about 8:47 p.m. when McHugh’s SUV veered off the road and struck them. The mother reportedly pushed Leani out of the vehicle’s path and shielded Jadiyn, who deflected off the vehicle and suffered a broken leg. Rojas became trapped under the truck, which ran over her then plowed into a utility pole. Rojas died a short time later at a downtown hospital.
Bystanders detained McHugh at the scene until police arrived. Authorities have not disclosed what intoxicants were in McHugh’s system at the time. He is charged with homicide by vehicle while DUI, involuntary manslaughter, aggravated assault by vehicle while DUI and related offenses. He is scheduled for a June 27 preliminary hearing.
Bail has been set at $500,000 in the case. But even if he were to post bail, he would remain in jail pending trial in the 2014 case.
The disturbing circumstances of that case were detailed in a Nov. 20, 2014, preliminary hearing. On July 30 that year, a 57-year-old woman was driving a Toyota Corolla northbound on Frankford Avenue in Holmesburg when she stopped for a red light at Welsh Road. A Dodge Ram pickup truck struck her violently from the rear.
According to the woman, both drivers exited their vehicles as if to exchange insurance information. But the other driver then returned to his truck and fled the scene. The woman used her heavily damaged car to pursue the truck northbound on Frankford for several blocks, then eastbound on Ashburner Street. When they reached the 4400 block of Ashburner, the other driver shifted his truck into reverse and struck the front of the woman’s car, inflicting more damage.
The woman’s car became disabled and she suffered injuries to her chest, but she managed to take a photo of the truck’s license plate before paramedics rushed her to a hospital emergency room. The other driver fled the scene in his truck.
Police used the license plate to identify McHugh as a suspect, then showed his photo to the victim as part of an array of mug shots. The woman recognized McHugh as the other driver. Police arrested McHugh six weeks after the incident.
William Kenny can be reached at 215–354–3031 or firstname.lastname@example.org.