HAMILTON – A Hamilton man charged with hitting and killing a 9-year-old Ravalli County boy with his vehicle Sunday afternoon made his first court appearance Monday in Ravalli County Justice Court.
Joseph John McNamara, 59, is charged with negligent homicide and failure to remain at an accident scene.
According to charging documents, Ravalli County dispatch received a report Sunday at approximately 12:55 p.m. of a hit-and-run in which a 9-year-old boy had been struck by a tan passenger van on Golf Course Road in Hamilton.
According to several witnesses who saw the crash, McNamara’s vehicle was traveling east on Golf Course Road at an extremely high rate of speed when it struck the boy who was crossing the street on/or walking a scooter.
Preliminary crash reports indicate McNamara was traveling at speeds nearly double the posted speed of 35 miles per hour.
After hitting the child, witnesses reported McNamara exited the vehicle and approached the boy. The boy’s father ran from a nearby home and rendered aid to his son. The father asked McNamara to call 911, but instead McNamara stated he needed to move his vehicle and drove away at a high rate of speed, according to charging documents.
The 9-year-old boy died shortly after the crash.
In court documents, authorities spoke to McNamara’s on-again, off-again girlfriend at her residence. The woman told authorities she was with him prior to the crash at Rotary Park where she reported McNamara consuming at least one beer. She told authorities they got into a fight and she left the park to go home.
McNamara arrived at the woman’s home after the hit-and-run and asked her for a ride because he “had hit something.” She refused and McNamara left the home.
After a five and a half hour search, McNamara was apprehended at a home in Hamilton.
He refused a blood test and claimed he had “smoked something” after the crash. When a trooper informed McNamara he intended to obtain a search warrant for the defendant’s blood, McNamara responded “after I hit that kid you have enough charges to lock me up for life.”
McNamara is being held in the Ravalli County Detention Center on a $500,000 bond.
Clarification: In earlier news reports, the Ravalli County sheriff identified the victim as being 10 years old.
-Reported by Melissa Rafferty/MTN News