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Man is apprehended after pursuit on I-81

July 30, 2003|by BRIAN SHAPPELL and TAMELA BAKER

shappell@herald-mail.com
tammyb@herald-mail.com

A Maryland State Police trooper said officers were surprised to discover that the motorist who led police on a three-state chase Tuesday morning was 70 years old.

Police said the chase began in Virginia, went through Berkeley County, W.Va., and ended in Washington County when the man's pickup truck collided with two police vehicles.

The crash and subsequent melee outside the man's truck on northbound Interstate 81 sent the driver and two state troopers to Washington County Hospital for treatment of injuries.

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Police arrested Julian Basil Foster Sr., 70, of Dimock, Pa., in Susquehanna County, on more than a dozen charges, including two counts of first-degree assault, three counts of second-degree assault, driving under the influence and negligent driving in connection with the chase on I-81, according to Maryland State Police.

The chase ended shortly after Foster's truck collided with two Maryland State Police vehicles near the Halfway Boulevard exit of I-81, police said.

Maryland State Police Trooper Rob Embly said Foster, Trooper Kyle George, Cpl. Wayne Wachsmuth and Trooper Andy Smith were injured.

The spokeswoman said George and Wachsmuth were treated at Washington County Hospital and released Tuesday, according to a hospital spokeswoman.

Embly said George suffered neck and back injuries in the collision between his police car and the truck, and Wachsmuth suffered an ankle injury while trying to handcuff Foster. Trooper Smith declined treatment for a cut hand, police said.

Embly alleged that Foster was unruly during his arrest. The nature of Foster's injuries was not released.

A Washington County Hospital spokeswoman said Foster was being treated in the emergency room Tuesday evening, but she did not have specific information on his condition.

Foster later appeared for his arraignment before District Court Commissioner Craig Clevenger in a hospital gown and a neck brace. Foster is being held at the Washington County Detention Center on $35,000 bond.

Embly said the chase originated in Frederick County, Va., after Foster allegedly failed to pay for gas.

A Virginia State Police spokesperson could not be reached for comment Tuesday evening.

West Virginia State Police Sgt. Deke Walker said West Virginia officers got involved in the pursuit at 10:54 a.m. at the 1-mile marker on Interstate 81. Troopers Keith Martin and John Droppleman were among the officers who chased the truck through West Virginia, exceeding speeds of 100 mph during portions of the chase, Walker said.

At one point, "stop sticks" - which are used to flatten tires - were thrown onto the road, and two of the pickup truck's tires were punctured, Walker said.

Maryland State Police joined the chase at about 11:11 a.m. after Foster, driving on two flattened tires, crossed the Maryland state line.

Embly, the first Maryland officer involved, said Foster's truck "was pretty much riding on two flat tires ... The more he drove the more they disintegrated until it was just on rims. He left debris all over the interstate."

Embly said the truck collided with George's car, which spun "completely around," and with a Ford Explorer driven by Cpl. Richard Poffenberger.

Poffenberger then rammed the Explorer into the pickup, forcing it to spin and come to a stop.

Embly alleged that Foster disobeyed police orders during a scuffle.

"He was flailing his feet and fists - everybody kinda got hit," Embly said.

It took at least seven troopers to take Foster into custody after attempts to subdue him with pepper spray had no effect, Embly said.

Embly said he and other officers were surprised that a 70-year-old man tried so diligently to avoid capture.

Staff writers Candice Bosely and Gregory Simmons contributed to this story.

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