40-mile chase included drop-off of pregnant girlfriend, 7 miles on rims
SHAMOKIN - A spike strip wasn't enough to stop a Luzerne County man from continuing a wild 40-mile chase early Saturday, police said, racking up 19 criminal charges along the way.
Justin C. Mattson, 25, of Conyngham, had already driven more than 30 miles, at times topping 100 mph; had dropped off his pregnant girlfriend along the side of Route 225; changed directions several times, and forced another motorist off the road, according to a criminal complaint filed Monday.
When Mattson hit the spike strip deployed by state troopers near Mahanoy Street in Trevorton, police said he kept driving. He rode the rims of a 1997 Jeep Grand Cherokee another seven miles into Shamokin, stopping about 3 a.m. only when he drove over and got hung up on a concrete parking stop on Third Street behind Turkey Hill.
Mattson resisted arrest, police said, fighting back against officers and kicking Trooper Samuel Edwards in the leg. A Taser was deployed by Ralpho Township Patrolman Christopher Grow before Mattson was handcuffed and eventually taken to Northumberland County Prison, Sunbury.
He remained jailed Tuesday on $25,000 bail after being arraigned via video conference by Magisterial District Judge John Gembic III. Gembic denied Mattson's pleas to lower the bail. It wouldn't matter, the judge said, since there was an outstanding warrant from Bloomsburg for his arrest.
Mattson had a blackened left eye. He blamed it on police aggression, telling Gembic he held his hands in the air when he was struck twice. He told the judge he wanted any video footage from Turkey Hill cameras facing Third Street.
Officers said another man, James R. Plasters, signed a written statement that he had fought Mattson earlier and kicked him in the face three times, causing the black eye.
Dropped off in 'Long Bush'
The chase began at 2 a.m. after Mattson had been stopped by Coal Township Patrolman Dave Sage near the Cameron Bridge for allegedly driving erratically near Tharptown. Sage backed off when the vehicles reached Zerbe Township and state troopers took over. The chase continued mostly along Route 225 in Coal, Zerbe, Little Mahanoy and Jackson townships before ending in Shamokin. City police also assisted.
Police said Mattson changed directions on the highway at least four times and had once brake-checked a police cruiser. A state trooper drove into Mattson's vehicle in a failed attempt to stop him. Mattson also is accused of weaving in and out of traffic, causing Nicholas Percoskie to drive off the highway to avoid a collision.
Mattson's girlfriend, identified in the criminal complaint as Heather Otto, told officers Mattson nearly struck another cruiser head-on while she screamed for him to slow down. He eventually did, dropping her off in the "Long Bush" area west of Trevorton. Pursuing troopers stopped to assist Otto, who complained of stomach pains and was taken for treatment at Geisinger-Shamokin Area Community Hospital, while other troopers picked up the chase.
Among Mattson's charges are felony aggravated assault for allegedly kicking Edwards, two felony counts of fleeing police and misdemeanor offenses of resisting arrest, false reports for claiming police gave him the black eye, two counts of reckless endangerment and several summary traffic violations. Troopers Ronald Zanella and Brian Ronk of the Stonington station filed the charges.