WELLSBURG - A Wellsburg man has been arrested for allegedly using an excavator to dig ditches along an area being timbered for a natural gas pipeline.
Jeffrey B. Palmer, 20, of RD 1, Wellsburg, was arrested by the Brooke County Sheriff's Department Saturday for tampering with a vehicle and three counts each of destruction of property and petit larceny.
According to court reports, Palmer on the night of Aug. 13 stole keys and four handheld radios from excavators being used by Northern Clearing Inc. to clear trees to allow the extension of a pipeline through an area off Campground Road near Bethany.
The reports said Palmer returned to the site the following night and dug a ditch across the access road to the site and again on Nov. 18 to dig another ditch and a large hole.
The reports said Palmer also took a pistol from a locked compartment in one of the vehicles.
Sheriff's deputies said a receipt for a local gas station bearing his name that was found on one of the vehicles is evidence that Palmer was responsible.
Palmer wasn't employed by Northern Clearing, and his motive wasn't stated in the reports.
The incident isn't related to a fatal accident Sunday on nearby Camp Run Road where workers also have been installing pipeline.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is investigating the accident, which occurred when a heavy, 120-foot section of pipeline, being lifted in the air, swung through the window of an excavating vehicle. The pipe struck and killed the vehicle's operator, a Lousiana man whose name hasn't been released.