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Chase travels through two states

cruisers damaged

April 06, 2000|By KIMBERLY YAKOWSKI

A Hagerstown man was apprehended Wednesday night following a chase in Maryland and West Virginia that reached speeds of 80 mph, according to the Sgt. Mark Knight of the Washington County Sheriff's Department.

Knight said an officer noticed a Toyota pickup with a multi-purpose tag parked outside a gas station and convenience store on West Washington and Nottingham streets.

Suspecting the tag might be false, the officer ran a check on the license plate and found out the pickup truck had been reported stolen.

The officer approached the driver of the pickup truck as he came out of the convenience store, but the man jumped in his vehicle and drove away, police said.

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Officers from the Washington County Sheriff's Department, Hagerstown City Police and Maryland State Police chased the driver through Hagerstown's West End as the pickup truck backtracked repeatedly onto West Washington, Franklin and other streets, police said.

The driver eventually got on Interstate 81 from the Halfway area and headed south with officers in pursuit.

Knight said the truck crossed the bridge over the Potomac River into West Virginia and then crossed the median and headed north on I-81, getting off the interstate at Williamsport on a cloverleaf and then getting on I-81 south.

At one point, patrol cars stopped the car by boxing it against the concrete median. As an officer attempted to open his car door to get out, the pickup truck accelerated, smashing the door and damaging another patrol car, police alleged. No one was injured.

Police said they continued their pursuit of the pickup truck south on I-81 as the vehicle repeatedly exited and then got back on the highway.

A dump truck driver also traveling south on I-81 noticed the chase and used his truck to prevent the pickup truck from passing him.

With patrol cars closing in behind him, the driver of the pickup truck was forced to stop and was taken into custody, said Knight.

Knight said that while the sheriff's department appreciates the dump truck driver's actions, the department does not solicit the help of civilians in vehicle chases.

"We certainly don't expect the citizens to get involved," he said.

The chase lasted about 26 minutes and involved 11 officers from the various departments.

Howard Carlton Pettit Jr., 41, of Hagerstown, was charged with theft, fleeing and eluding, first- and second-degree assault, destruction of property and numerous traffic offenses, including driving with a suspended license and without insurance.

He was being held at Eastern Regional Jail near Martinsburg, W.Va., Wednesday evening pending a bond hearing.

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