STATE POLICE

Observer-Reporter

A state police trooper lauded for his DUI deterrence efforts is facing charges of driving under the influence after he was accused of striking a parked vehicle with his state-issued SUV outside a North Strabane fire station in September.

Jeffrey Alan Tihey, who is assigned to the state police’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation, was scheduled to appear May 6 for his preliminary hearing before Senior District Judge Larry Hopkins, but the proceeding was postponed for the third time.

Tihey, 39, of North Strabane, is accused of having a blood-alcohol level three times the legal limit to drive a vehicle when he allegedly hit a firefighter’s personal pickup truck in the parking lot of North Strabane Fire Station No. 3 at 430 Johnson Road shortly before midnight Sept. 30, according to court documents.

A firefighter who was inside the station at the time told North Strabane police he heard a “thumping sound” outside the building. When the firefighter came out, he could smell burning rubber and see that a tire on Tihey’s SUV was flat. The firefighter then saw that his pickup truck had been hit, and both vehicles had sustained minor damage, according to court documents.

Tihey got out of the vehicle and began to “stumble around,” but then got back in and tried to leave by putting the SUV in reverse toward a hillside, the court documents allege. Tihey then stopped and began to “nod off” behind the wheel, the firefighter told police. The firefighter was able to get the keys from Tihey and he called North Strabane police, investigators said.

Tihey was taken to Canonsburg Hospital for testing, which revealed he had a blood-alcohol level of .24% at the time, police said. North Strabane police charged him on Nov. 22 with two misdemeanor counts of driving under the influence.

It was not known where Tihey had been before the incident or why he was in the fire station’s parking lot. The 2014 Ford Explorer that Tihey was driving at the time of the incident was his unmarked state police vehicle, said Deputy Attorney General Alicia Werner, who is prosecuting the case.

Tihey has been on restricted duty status since he was charged, according to Lt. Adam Reed, a state police spokesman near Harrisburg. Tihey could be terminated from his position with the state police because the alleged incident happened with a state vehicle. A trooper with the state police’s internal affairs unit was present for the May 3 hearing.

Tihey’s preliminary hearing before Hopkins at DUI court in Washington was rescheduled for July 15 at 3 p.m.

While working at the Uniontown and Washington barracks, Tihey was recognized in 2011, 2013 and 2015 for the state’s “DUI Top Gun” award given each year to dozens of law enforcement officers by the Pennsylvania Driving Under the Influence Association, according to multiple newspaper reports.

Mike Jones has been a news reporter since 2005, covering crime, state and municipal government, education and energy. He has worked at the Wheeling Intelligencer, Observer-Reporter, Charleston (W.Va.) Daily Mail and Patch.com.

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