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Pa. man faces charges after high-speed chase

April 23, 2004|by GREGORY T. SIMMONS

gregs@herald-mail.com

HAGERSTOWN - A Waynesboro, Pa., man was charged following a high-speed chase that ended in a grassy field near Hagerstown Thursday morning, the Washington County Sheriff's Department said.

John Eugene Snell, 28, of 10798 Durham Circle, Waynesboro, was driving the 2004 Nissan Pathfinder involved in the chase, Washington County Sheriff's Department Sgt. Mark Knight alleged. There was a woman passenger, he said.

Washington County District Court Commissioner Timothy Haven set Snell's bond at $200,000 Thursday afternoon.

Haven said Snell is charged with two counts each of first-degree assault and failure to stop at a stop sign and single counts of theft over $500, speeding, driving the wrong way on a one-way street, reckless driving, failure to stop after a property-damage accident and failure to stop after a personal-injury accident.

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Snell told Haven that Thursday was supposed to be his first day as a mechanic at a Waynesboro auto business.

Knight said the passenger in the sport utility vehicle would not be charged.

Knight said local police agencies broadcast a lookout Thursday morning for a 2004 Nissan Pathfinder, which was reported stolen in Waynesboro.

Knight said sheriff's department Cpl. Daniel Faith spotted the SUV on Halfway Boulevard at about 10 a.m. When Faith attempted to stop the Nissan, the driver sped off, Knight said.

The chase continued onto Downsville Pike, Spielman Road, Manor Church Road, Wheeler Road, Md. 34 through Boonsboro onto Boonsboro Mountain Road and to U.S. 40.

Other deputies were called to join the chase, as was Maryland State Police, which dispatched a helicopter.

The driver lost control of the Nissan several times, driving over lawns and at times reaching speeds above 80 mph, Knight said. At one point the car ran over a tire-deflation device but kept going, he said.

As police tried to stop the SUV, Knight's vehicle and a vehicle driven by state police Trooper 1st Class Debbie Hamby were rammed, according to the sheriff's department. Hamby was taken to Washington County Hospital with what appeared to be minor injuries, police said.

State Police Cpl. Greg Spickler said he joined the chase near the intersection of Sharpsburg Pike and Spielman Road. On U.S. 40 heading toward Hagerstown, he was bumping the car from behind, he said.

"He was all over the road," Spickler said.

The sheriff's department said the SUV was traveling close to 100 mph on U.S. 40 east of Hagerstown.

After the Nissan struck another tire-deflation device, Spickler said he bumped the Nissan one final time.

The Nissan fishtailed and went into a field off U.S 40, west of Md. 66, police said. The passenger side door flew open and the passenger either jumped out or fell out as the Nissan continued into the field, Spickler said,

When the Nissan came to a halt, at least a half-dozen officers were at the side of the SUV, most with their service weapons drawn, Spickler said.

Once the driver was out of the car, he was led to an ambulance in handcuffs and leg restraints. He and the woman were taken to Washington County Hospital, where they were treated and released, police said.

Staff writer Andrew Schotz contributed to this story.

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