A Chambersburg man is in jail after allegedly fleeing from police Monday at speeds up to 120 mph while driving a stolen car into Maryland, causing several crashes before finally hitting the back of a tractor-trailer.
Gabriel Edward Gomez, 25, of 31 N. Franklin St., was arrested in Washington County, Md., after crashing the 1992 Toyota Camry on Interstate 81 southbound, near mile marker 9. He remains in the Washington County Detention Center in lieu of $200,000 bail.
Pennsylvania State Police, Chambersburg, said a trooper checked the Toyota and learned it had been reported stolen. He attempted to stop the car about 3:35 p.m. on I-81 near mile marker 16 in Guilford Township. The driver, Gomez, allegedly refused to pull over and a pursuit began.
The Toyota belonged to Sierra Carpenter, 23, Chambersburg. According to Chambersburg Police, Carpenter reported the theft Sunday. He said the car was left idling while he was inside 435 S. Main St., and it was gone by 7:40 p.m.
In the theft report, the Toyota was described as maroon with a dented driver's side door and several Shippensburg University stickers on the back. It was valued at $3,000, according to charging documents.
According to a criminal complaint filed by the Washington County Sheriff's Office, Maryland authorities were alerted to the southbound chase about 3:45 p.m.
The Toyota got off the interstate at Maugans Avenue and led the chase into Maugansville, Md., turning right onto Village Mill Road. Gomez allegedly drove through several backyards before re-entering I-81 south via Showalter Road.
The pursuit ended when the Toyota struck a dump truck, a Ford pickup truck and the back of a loaded tractor-trailer, according to the police affidavit. Traffic had stopped or slowed due to an unrelated fatal crash about a mile ahead in the northbound lanes.
Maryland State Police, Hagerstown, said Benson Lewis of Dallas, Texas, was driving an International truck tractor south shortly before 3:07 p.m. when he crossed the median into the northbound lanes.
The truck struck a 2005 Toyota Avalon operated by Leroy Corbin of Huntingdon, a 2006 Ford F-150 operated by Mark Siegrist of Fayetteville, and a 2008 Saturn Vue operated by Shelly Jason of Hagerstown.
Corbin was killed on impact, police said. Siegrist refused medical treatment. Jason and Tammye Lewis, a female passenger in the tractor-trailer, were taken to Meritus Medical Center in Hagerstown with non life-threatening injuries.
Police said I-81 was closed for several hours while the scene was reconstructed and cleared.
After the stolen Toyota crashed into the vehicles that were waiting on the cleanup, Gomez and his passenger, Dante Scott, 25, Franklin County, were arrested. Scott was later released without being charged, according to the affidavit.One of the officers who pursued Gomez, Trooper David Shero of PSP Chambersburg, told Maryland investigators that speeds reached 120 mph during the chase. No injuries were reported.
Gomez is charged in Maryland with theft of a motor vehicle, unauthorized removal of property, theft of property valued between $1,000 and $10,000, reckless driving, attempting to elude police, failure to stop at the scene of a crash and driving without a license.
A hearing is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. May 8 in Washington County District Court, according to online court records.
Jim Tuttle can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 262-4754.
Copyright 2012 Public Opinion All Rights Reserved