HURRICANE, S.C.– A Hurricane father involved in a scuffle with emergency personnel at the scene of his daughter’s car accident no longer faces felony charges.
In January, police charged Rudy Falbo, 41, with hindering an emergency rescue – a felony – after his daughter’s Ford Explorer was T-boned by another car at the intersection of U.S. 60 and Sycamore Road. Falbo could have faced 30 years in prison. The charges were bound over to the grand jury in February, but Rudy Falbo was never indicted. Recently, prosecutors reduced his charges to misdemeanors, and in turn, are not required to present their case to a grand jury.
“We do think what he did is serious enough for him to be charged criminally, but in light of the circumstances we feel these are more appropriate charges based on the characteristics of the case,” said Putnam County assistant prosecutor Kristina Raynes.
Rudy Falbo is now charged with eight misdemeanors: obstructing an officer, battery of a government representative, two counts of battery of an emergency service personnel, three counts of assault of a government representative, and obstructing or causing bodily injury to emergency medical service personnel.
His trial is set for Jan. 23, 2012 in front of Putnam Circuit Judge Phillip Stowers. His attorney, Jamie Fox of Hurricane, said he will demand a jury trial.
According to criminal complaints filed in Putnam County Magistrate Court, paramedics and volunteer firefighters repeatedly told Rudy Falbo to get out of the way at the scene of the accident. Hurricane police Patrolmen J.M. Kerr and C.K. Eggleton, also told Rudy Falbo several times to move, the complaint states.
“Kerr [then] pulled Mr. Falbo out of the way by his belt and at that point Mr. Falbo began pulling away and fighting,” allegedly assaulting two firefighters and three paramedics in the process, the complaint states.
“[In] the course of Mr. Falbo fighting he was taken to the ground where he resisted arrest and then got back up and was pinned against a fire truck, and Officer Eggleton applied the Taser to Mr. Falbo.”
Josh Falbo, Rudy Falbo’s son, allegedly shoved two firefighters and threw a punch that missed, according to the complaints. Eggleton and Putnam County paramedic Cory Champlin were treated at CAMC Teays Valley for hand injuries, the complaint states. Felony charges against Josh Falbo, who was 18 when the incident happened, have been dismissed, said Fox.
“I was successful in having the court dismiss those charges and they haven’t brought new charges against him, and I don’t expect them to,” Fox said.
About 20 of Falbo’s friends and relatives gathered in March outside the courthouse in Winfield with signs demanding prosecutors drop the case against him, saying he was just trying to comfort his daughter.
“There’s certainly been an outpouring of community support and concern because everyone realizes the far reaching implications [the charges] have,” Fox said.
Falbo, a former X-ray technician who received his training in the Army, does not have a criminal past, his lawyer said. Robin Falbo, Rudy’s wife, said life since the accident has been hard.
“My family is stressed out,” she said. “No one will hire him because of these pending charges.” Rudy Falbo was doing what any other concerned father would do in a crisis situation, Fox said. “Not only could he be sent to prison, but this is affecting his ability to find work,” he said. “It’s not just a minor proceeding in court, this is something that has life changing effects.”