Crash scene near Dickens: Felon takes snow blower, leaves partner behind

Friday, May 2, 2008
Thomas Carney

By Russ Mitchell

Daily Reporter Staff

Authorities aren't sure whether it was drugs, alcohol or head injuries from a car crash that left Ronald Moriarty disoriented Tuesday night.

But they do know Moriarty was a passenger trapped in a wreckage of late-model Chevy truck at about 6:07 that night just east of Dickens.

They know Thomas Carney, a 45-year-old Spencer man, was the driver.

And, their investigation suggests, Carney was worried about his own outlook when he gathered stolen property -- including a snow blower -- from a rural burglary, ran to an abandoned corn crib to escape authorities, and left his passenger behind.

"Not often, when a person is involved in an accident, that you're more concerned about your own skin than you are for your friend who is left in the vehicle," Clay County Sheriff Randy Krukow said.

Moriarty eventually got some help: He was extricated from the truck by volunteer emergency responders. He was taken to Spencer Hospital then flown by medical helicopter to a Sioux Falls. S.D., Hospital.

"I talked to one of the firemen who was in the ambulance and he was out of it," Krukow said of Moriarty.

Because of that, emergency crews couldn't determine the extent of Moriarty's injuries. Krukow noted that Moriarty has already been dismissed from the Sioux Falls hospital.

"I think a majority of it was drugs or alcohol," the sheriff said of Moriarty's condition.

As for Carney, deputies placed him under arrest after he gave himself up in the corn crib, which was about 200 feet from the crash scene.

He faces a series of charges including operating while intoxicated, driving with a suspended license, no proof of insurance, leaving the scene of an accident, second-degree burglary and possession of a firearm by a felon.

The weapon wasn't one of the items Carney carried to the corn crib. It remained inside the pickup along with other stolen property. Deputies think Moriarty was acting as a partner in the burglaries and also could face charges.

The sheriff said his office is seeing an unusually high number of burglaries and trespassing incidents in rural northwest Iowa. Most of the incidents take place during the daytime hours, when many farm families are in town, working jobs, to supplement the farm income.

"I just really encourage people in the rural areas -- and even in the towns: If you see unusual activity underfoot, if you see a strange vehicle, and you think 'this doesn't look good,' I really encourage people to call our office or call their local law enforcement," he said. "It isn't just Clay County -- we're seeing it all over."

Information like license plate numbers, or even a direction of travel, can help authorities square away burglary cases in the area.

"We're having a high amount of drug use out there and we obviously have people who would rather steal than work," Krukow said.

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