LEWISTOWN - Former Mifflin County High School football coach Steve Hayes was charged recently with reckless endangerment.
Mifflin County District Attorney Dave Molek said he reviewed the Oct. 11, 2011 incident with police and decided that the reckless endangerment charge was appropriate. According to court documents, several students were cleaning out Hayes' truck and discovered a loaded Tarus .38 Special revolver.
Police said the firearm is a double-action with no safety, meaning the operator only needs to pull the trigger to discharge the weapon.
Molek said that although Hayes did not appear to have intentionally put the students in danger, under the law, the incident was still considered reckless.
As a result of the incident, Hayes resigned his coaching position and the Mifflin County School District Board of Directors accepted his resignation on Oct. 13, despite some impassioned pleas from members of the community.
The board voted by a 6-1 margin during a special voting meeting that took place following the monthly committee-of-the-whole meeting and a hour-long executive session to cover legal and personnel issues. Voting in favor of accepting Hayes' resignation were directors James Hurlburt, Dave Molek, Travis Parkes, Kirk Rager, Beth Reifsnyder and Kristen Sharp. Voting against the recommendation was director Dr. Ruth Armstrong. Directors Walter Harpster and John Traxler were not at that meeting.
At that time, Molek was still serving on the school board, but said he does not believe there is a conflict of interest in prosecuting the case, because the board took no formal action against Hayes.
According to court documents, Mifflin County High School Principal Mark Crosson was notified by School Resource Officer Cpl. Robert Haines with the Mifflin County Regional Police Department that a parent reported her son had discovered the handgun in Hayes' truck.
One of the juveniles interviewed by police stated he could not participate at football practice due to an injury and Hayes had asked him and other students to clean out his truck instead, police said.
Hayes told police he had completely forgotten the gun was in his truck. Hayes said he carries the gun for protection when he is at his camp.
Hayes said he had a permit to carry the gun. Molek said that was later confirmed by law enforcement personnel.
Hayes is scheduled to appear for central court at the Mifflin County Court of Common Pleas on Feb. 1.
According to online court records, no bail is listed for Hayes and he remains free pending further court action.
A representative with Magisterial District Judge Aaron Gingrich's office said they have not yet been informed who Hayes' attorney is.