A 23-year-old man fleeing from the scene of an attempted break in on East Washington Street led multiple law enforcement agencies on a chase throughout the city and surrounding areas before crashing into a Pennsylvania State Police vehicle at the intersection of West Smith and Worth streets early Saturday morning.
The driver of the fleeing vehicle was identified as Austin Lee Miller, of Corry, and he was arraigned on Saturday morning by District Judge Chris Mackendrick who set his bail at $100,000 straight. Miller remains confined in Erie County Prison on charges of aggravated assault by vehicle while driving under the influence, fleeing or attempting to elude officers, use/possession of drug paraphernalia, DUI: controlled substance and recklessly endangering another person, among others.
Corry City Police were dispatched to 419 E. Washington St., Corry, at 3:05 a.m. on Saturday after an occupant of apartment 2 called 911 to report an armed person was attempting to break into her residence where she lives with her six children and two other guests, according to a news release from the city of Corry Police Department.
During the 911 call, the occupant stated the suspect left and was running down a nearby alley. When city police arrived at the scene, they observed a subject running down the alley and getting into the passenger side of an SUV, which drove north through the alley between Gould and Wayne streets.
A responding officer returned to his vehicle to attempt to stop the SUV, but the vehicle fled northbound on Wright Street, traveled through Snyder Circle and Pine Grove Cemetery before leaving the city on Route 426.
Corry City Police stayed a safe distance behind the fleeing vehicle until assistance arrived and took over the pursuit. Erie County dispatch related to Corry-based Pennsylvania State Police that Corry City Police were involved in a pursuit with a blue 2002 Ford Explorer with two suspects and firearm inside.
“The police officer wasn't pushing the pursuit until assistance could arrive," Corry City Police Chief Rich Shopene said.
PSP Corry joined the pursuit at about 3:27 a.m. in the area of Route 8 and Hillside Drive in the Borough of Wattsburg, according to an affidavit of probable cause filed with the police criminal complaint. At that time, PSP Corry became the primary unit of the pursuit and Corry City Police were the secondary unit.
Miller failed to yield to police and committed several traffic violations while fleeing. Shopene said he drove from Route 426 to Route 474, headed west to Route 8, then took Route 89 to Elgin where he drove from Ormsbee Road to Hammond Road to Stewart Road to Shady Avenue and back into the city on East South Street.
Once he was back in the city, Miller continued to flee from police by driving on East, Church, Concord, Main and Smith streets as well as Maple and Mead avenues, according to Shopene.
"He went through Mead Park and out the path through the Methodist Church onto Worth Street to Smith Street," Shopene said.
Miller ran a stop sign at the intersection of Worth and West Smith streets and struck a police cruiser responding from PSP Erie. The crash occurred near 361 Worth St. at about 3:53 a.m. and the troopers' vehicle rolled onto its roof after the impact, coming to rest west of the intersection with Worth Street.
"They were involved in the pursuit as well but they were trying to locate where the pursuit was at, so they were responding to assist," said trooper Cindy Schick, public information officer for PSP Troop E.
The suspects' vehicle struck the passenger side rear quarter panel of the troopers' vehicle, causing two troopers inside to become entrapped. Corry Fire Department extricated the two injured troopers using the Hurst Tool and they were both flown to UPMC Hamot in Erie for serious but non-life-threatening injuries. The troopers are still in the hospital but are in stable condition.
After impact, Miller's vehicle continued south of Worth Street where it went up onto a sidewalk in the southwest corner of the intersection and struck a pedestrian — a 32-year-old man from Lockport, New York. The suspects' vehicle came to rest on the property of Hasbrouck Chiropractic, located at 361 Worth St., near the intersection with West Smith Street.
Miller fled on foot after the crash and was taken into custody about three minutes later. The pedestrian who was struck was taken to Corry Memorial Hospital, an affiliate of LECOM Health, for moderate, non-life-threatening injuries.
Schick said the passenger in Miller's vehicle was also flown to UPMC Hamot for treatment of injuries but was released a short time after. The identity of Miller's passenger had not been released as of press time.
Six capped hypodermic needles were found in Miller's front pocket at the time of his arrest and he related that he thought he took methamphetamine earlier in the evening, according to the affidavit, which also stated the suspects threw items out the window in the area of South Street and Avenue A.
Miller's passenger was the one who attempted to break into the East Washington Street apartment but Corry City Police hadn't charged him as of press time. Shopene said nothing was stolen because the suspect never got into the apartment and the attempted armed burglary is still under active investigation.
Police recovered several pellet guns from Miller's vehicle, according to Shopene.
Corry firefighters were dispatched to the scene of the crash at 3:54 a.m. and they remained there until 9:58 a.m. Portions of West Smith Street and Worth Street were closed down during that time. Firefighters stabilized the vehicles and attended to leaking fluids.
"We had a lot of fluids out of the vehicles," said Jim Lathrop, chief of Corry Fire Department.
One of the injured troopers was flown from the nearby former Corry Memorial Hospital helipad while the other trooper and Miller's passenger were flown from the First Presbyterian Church of Corry, 607 W. Smith St., according to Lathrop.
Corry Ambulance, Union City Volunteer Fire Co. ambulance, Clymer Volunteer Fire Department ambulance and Emergycare also responded to the scene. Union City also provided an engine that stood by at the Corry fire station.
Miller is scheduled to appear before District Judge Denise Buell for a preliminary hearing at 9 a.m. on Sept. 20 to answer to charges of aggravated assault by vehicle while DUI, a second-degree felony; aggravated assault by vehicle and fleeing or attempting to elude officers, both third-degree felonies; recklessly endangering another person and resisting arrest, both second-degree misdemeanors; and misdemeanor counts of DUI: controlled substance and use/possession of drug paraphernalia as well as four summary traffic offenses.