With his 4-year-old daughter pleading with him from the backseat of a car, an Orange County man threatened to kill the little girl and her mother by driving off a cliff following a series of domestic violence incidents, police said.
Warwick police said August Melish, 37, had beaten his wife the day before on April 22 at the family’s home in Greenwood Lake, said Lt. Thomas Maslanka.
"Melish choked his wife, hit her, and tried to put a pillow over her face and smother her," he said.
The next day, the wife and daughter managed to escape the home and headed to a relative's home on Route 17A.
Hours later, Melish showed up at the home and again became enraged and began attacking his wife by punching her in the face, pulling her hair and beating other parts of her body, Maslanka.
The relative, who tried to intervene, ran upstairs to call the police during the attack, he said.
Minutes later the woman managed to get away from her husband and grabbed her daughter and ran to a bathroom where she locked the door. Melish broke down the door and dragged the woman and child outside to his car and he drove away before police could arrive, Maslanka said.
Driving toward Greenwood Lake, Melish, began screaming that he was going to kill them by driving off a cliff while slapping the woman, and with the child screaming in the backseat, he added.
Maslanka said Melish tried to drive into a ravine, but the woman managed to grab the steering wheel to pull back the other way. She also noticed the key fob and grabbed it and opened her car door and threw out the key, injuring her foot as she did so.
As Melish pulled her back into the car, he again tried to drive into the ravine area, but the woman grabbed the steering wheel again and hit the off button the ignition button, cutting off the engine, before she fought to fend off attacks while steering the car into an uphill embankment across the road where it came to rest, Maslanka said.
Melish then began assaulting her again, as a good Samaritan drop up in a pickup truck and got out to see what was going on. That gave the woman the break she needed and she grabbed the child and ran to the truck where they locked the doors and waited for a short period until police arrived.
Police were able to apprehend Melish and charged him with reckless endangerment, unlawful imprisonment, attempted assault and criminal obstruction of breathing.
Melish is being held at the Orange County Jail on $50,000 cash or $100,000 bond on the felonies, plus $50,000 cash or $100,000 bond on the criminal obstruction of breathing charge.
Both the wife and daughter were provided orders of protection from the court.
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