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Lower Swatara police chase reaches 121 mph before driver crashes, tries to escape on train tracks

By Laura Hayes

laurahayes@pressandjournal.com

717-944-4628
Posted 9/6/19

Speeds reached 121 mph during a police chase that started in Lower Swatara Township at 1:04 a.m. Sept. 4.

According to an affidavit filed with District Judge Michael J. Smith, a township officer …

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Lower Swatara police chase reaches 121 mph before driver crashes, tries to escape on train tracks

Posted

Speeds reached 121 mph during a police chase that started in Lower Swatara Township at 1:04 a.m. Sept. 4.

According to an affidavit filed with District Judge Michael J. Smith, a township officer was on patrol in the 100 block of Richardson Road and saw that a car driven by Derek Smith, 57, of Harrisburg, didn’t signal a turn into the entrance of Holiday Inn and Wendy’s.

The officer pulled over the vehicle and was halfway to the car when it took off, according to the affidavit. The car reportedly went over the curb in the Wendy’s parking lot and onto South Eisenhower Boulevard before making a U-turn to head north and get onto Route 283.

The officer and another nearby pursued the car onto Interstate 83 and off at the 17th Street Exit. According to the affidavit, speeds reached 121 mph and other cars had to move out of the way. 

As Smith tried going around the curve of the exit, he lost control and crashed, the affidavit said. Smith reportedly got out of the car and ran onto nearby Norfolk Southern train tracks.

Assisting police officers surrounded Smith. Officers found him lying in a creek, and he was taken into custody and taken to a hospital, according to the affidavit. Smith refused to have blood drawn.

Officers found crack cocaine and a scale in Smith’s car, police wrote in the affidavit.

Smith has been charged with fleeing or attempting to elude an officer; flight to avoid apprehension, trial or punishment; escape; recklessly endangering another person; accident involving death or injury while not licensed; possession of a controlled substance by an unauthorized person; possession of drug paraphernalia; DUI; driving while operating privilege is suspended or revoked; reckless driving; accident involving damage to an unattended vehicle or property; and not driving at a safe speed.

He was arraigned before Smith; bail was set at $50,000. His preliminary hearing is Sept. 18.