12/14/2005

Stolen Jeep hits Pa. police car during chase

ELIZABETH EVANS The York Dispatch  and HEIDI BERNHARD-BUBB

Copyright 2005 MediaNews Group, Inc. 
The York Dispatch (York, PA)

A Springettsbury Township policeman escaped injury when his cruiser was hit by a fleeing stolen vehicle during a pursuit yesterday morning.

Although Sgt. Gregory Witmer wasn't hurt, the cruiser sustained some damage but is still driveable, according to township Lt. Scott Laird.

"Apparently, they lost control in the snow and spun around ... in front of our cruiser," Laird said.

Also during the chase, the stolen red Jeep hit a tree and sideswiped a parked car in York City, he said.

Laird said his department was advised over police radio that police in Columbia, Lancaster County, were searching for a Jeep that had been stolen from that city.

"We got the call at 11:10 [a.m.] and we started the pursuit at 11:11 [a.m.]," he said.

Laird said Witmer first spotted the westbound Jeep on Route 30 near the Mount Zion Road entrance ramp and gave chase, assisted by other township cruisers. When the chase went into York City, city officers joined in, he said. The township cruiser was hit after the chase crossed into the city.

After cutting through lawns and a parking lot at Lutheran Social Services building, 750 Kelly Drive, the stolen vehicle hit a park bench and a parked car, police said. The two males inside jumped out and fled on foot, police said, but were captured by officers from York City and West Manchester Township.

The 15- and 16-year-old males, both York City residents, were placed in the county's juvenile detention center and will be charged as juveniles, police said. Their names were not released.

Facing charges: The teens will be charged with theft, receiving stolen property, criminal mischief, accidents involving damage and fleeing and eluding police.

Laird said it was the 15-year-old who was driving during the chase. Although police have safety concerns during any vehicle chase, young drivers can cause extra worry, he said.

"When you have juveniles who are not necessarily experienced drivers -- or even licensed drivers -- that could and does cause increased concern," he said. "But by the same token, officers don't necessarily know that at the time [of the pursuit]. We don't necessarily know who the drivers of those cars are."

That was the case in yesterday's chase, Laird said.

"It wasn't until after the fact that we knew they were juveniles."

-- Reach Elizabeth Evans at levans@yorkdispatch.com or 505-5429. Reach Heidi Bernhard-Bubb at hbubb@yorkdispatch.com or 505-5436. 
 
December 12, 2005

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