Court appearance set for tractor-trailer driver in multi-state pursuit

Preliminary hearing for Thomas L. McNeel will be held at the Franklin County Courthouse

December 28, 2010|By KATE S. ALEXANDER |

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. — The tractor-trailer driver who led police on a multi-state chase down Interstate 81 while allegedly under the influence of methamphetamine is scheduled to make an appearance in Franklin County court Thursday.

A preliminary hearing for Thomas L. McNeel of Pontotoc, Miss., will be held at 1 p.m. at the Franklin County Courthouse, the county District Attorney's Office said.

During the hearing, a magisterial district judge will listen to the state present evidence for proceeding with criminal prosecution.

McNeel was arraigned Dec. 20 before Magisterial District Judge Duane Cunningham on 42 charges, including fleeing and attempting to elude police, possession of narcotics, driving under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance, reckless endangerment, resisting arrest and several traffic violations.

Cunningham set bail at $250,000, and McNeel was taken to Franklin County Jail.

The three-state chase began at 8:22 a.m. on Dec. 20 in Berkeley County W.Va., near the 1 1/2 mile marker north of the Virginia border.

It ended after the truck, hauling furniture, got hung up in a culvert in the median of I-81 near Greencastle, Pa.

The tractor-trailer caused several accidents on I-81 in West Virginia and Maryland and swerved toward police cars and officers on foot, authorities said at the time

Police deployed "stop sticks," which are accordian-folded pieces of fiberglass that have hollow steel coils to poke holes in tires, to slow the rig, authorities said.

After the tractor-trailer wrecked in the median, McNeel refused to come out of the vehicle, police said.

McNeel was "generally incoherent" and admitted to using methamphetamines, police said. Suspected narcotics and paraphernalia were also found on McNeel, police said.

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