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Truck driver ordered to face charges in three-state police chase

July 05, 2011|By DON AINES | dona@herald-mail.com
  • A police officer is seen in this Dec. 21 file photo approaching a tractor-trailer that led police on a chase through three states before coming to rest in the median of Interstate 81 in Pennsylvania.
By Kevin G. Gilbert/Staff Photographer

HAGERSTOWN — A Mississippi truck driver accused of leading police on a methamphetamine-fueled chase through three states last year had his Maryland charges moved to Washington County Circuit Court following a preliminary hearing last week in District Court.

Probable cause was found on all charges against Thomas Lee McNeel by visiting Judge James N. Vaughan, Deputy State’s Attorney Joseph Michael said Tuesday. No trial date has been set for McNeel, 43, of Pontotoc, Miss., who is being held in the Washington County Detention Center on $200,000 bond, an officer at the center said.

McNeel is charged in Maryland with four counts each of first- and second-degree assault, as well as charges of failing to stop after an accident, fleeing and eluding police, negligent driving and careless driving, court records said. Charges in West Virginia include felony reckless indifference to safety or property while fleeing, and fleeing while driving under the influence.

The assault charges involved allegations that McNeel aimed the truck at Maryland state troopers and Washington County sheriff’s deputies, one in a vehicle and three on foot, as he headed north on Interstate 81, Michael said.

Pennsylvania charges against McNeel have been resolved, Michael said. McNeel pleaded guilty in Franklin County Common Pleas Court on April 15 to charges of driving under the influence, fleeing and eluding police and simple possession of narcotics, and was sentenced May 25 to three days to 23 months in jail, a year on probation and fines, court records said.

McNeel was accused by law enforcement agencies in those three states of leading police on a wreck-strewn chase from Inwood, W.Va., to Greencastle, Pa., on Dec. 20. Police flattened the tires of the tractor-trailer he was driving before it crashed in the median of I-81 in Pennsylvania.

McNeel admitted to taking methamphetamine and a white powdery substance was found in the truck’s cab, according to the affidavit of probable cause filed by Pennsylvania State Police.

Police had to use a Taser and a police dog to get McNeel out of the cab following the wreck, the affidavit said.

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