Melissa Bennett

Melissa Bennett

The Lebanon Police Department arrested a woman on felony assault charges after she allegedly ran over her brother in the Walmart parking lot on Sunday night. Two children were in the vehicle at the time of the crash.

Melissa Louise Bennett, 35, of Vida, was charged with second-degree assault in Linn County Circuit Court on Monday afternoon. Judge Carol Bispham set her bail at $50,000, as requested by the prosecution, and the next hearing in the case is scheduled for Oct. 26.

Second-degree assault is a Measure 11 crime that carries a mandatory minimum sentence of nearly six years in prison. 

The initial 911 call about the incident came at 5:05 p.m., and officers responded for a reported vehicle-versus-pedestrian crash.

Investigation revealed that an altercation occurred between Bennett and her 21-year-old brother Derrick James Freeman, also of Vida. Freeman was transported to a local hospital with serious injuries, according to a Lebanon Police Department news release.

The Department of Human Services was called to assist with the case due to the children in the automobile.

Matthew Saathoff of Lebanon and his wife, Sarah Saathoff, had just finished buying a printer at the store and were putting it in their vehicle when they heard an automobile horn blasting and saw a woman inside a white car about 30 yards away.   

“He stepped out of the passenger door, and ran to the front of the car to the hood. He lifted up the front of the hood and reached his hand in. She waited about three seconds. She floored it,” Saathoff said.

The 21-year-old backpedaled away, Saathoff added.

“He tripped, he fell backwards and she ran him completely over, with both the front and rear tires of the driver’s side,” Saathoff said. “She looked like she was going to keep on driving.”

Saathoff told his wife to stay with the victim while he ran after the vehicle, got its license plate and called 911.

Charlotte Roles witnessed the incident as well, and said there was a major altercation in the car before the man was ran over.

“It looked like she was being pulled out of her driver’s seat,” Roles said. She added that it looked like when the man exited the vehicle, he was trying to disconnect the battery when he reached under the hood.

“She told me she was trying to swerve the car to try to get him to get out of the way,” Roles said. “She told me it was a total accident and she didn’t mean to do it.” 

Investigation into the incident is continuing, and those with information about the crash are asked to call the Lebanon Police Department at 541-451-1751.

Kyle Odegard can be reached at kyle.odegard@lee.net, 541-812-6077 or via Twitter @KyleOdegard.

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