Man charged in high-speed car chase, fourth in Mount Carmel Township since mid-April
MOUNT CARMEL TOWNSHIP - For the fourth time since mid-April, a high-speed chase that involved Mount Carmel Township police or occurred in the township has resulted in a crash.
Richard Allen Erb, 31, of 27 E. Sixth St., Apt. 1, Mount Carmel, faces a slew of charges in connection with the latest chase that reached between 80 and 100 miles per hour late Tuesday night along Route 61. At one point, the car operated by Erb went airborne and spun 360 degrees before returning to the ground.
Erb, who was committed to Northumberland County Prison in Sunbury on a probation violation and bench warrant involving unrelated charges filed by Mount Carmel Township police, is charged by Patrolman Matthew Filarski with 13 offenses, including fleeing or attempting to elude police, accidents involving death or personal injury, altered, forged or counterfeit documents and plates, resisting arrest, recklessly endangering another person, disorderly conduct, reckless driving, accidents involving damage to an unattended vehicle or property, failure to drive in a single lane, fraudulent use or removal of a registration plate, driving without insurance, a lighting violation and driving under suspension.
According to a criminal complaint filed at the office of Magisterial District Judge Hugh Jones, Erb and his passenger, Sandy M. Leedom, were initially observed by Filarski at the gas station at the Choice Discount Cigarette Outlet at the intersection of Route 2032 (Mid-Valley Road) and Route 61 at Atlas at 10:18 p.m.
After crossing the viaduct into Mount Carmel and turning in the parking lot next to Divine Redeemer Church, Filarski said he was informed that Erb did not have a valid driver's license. Filarski then headed back to the Choice store, but discovered that the white 1996 Chevrolet Camaro operated by Erb was no longer there.
After driving south on Route 61 toward the intersection with Route 54, Filarski spotted the Camaro in the area of Divita Dialysis.
After traveling to the area of The Trakk's restaurant along Route 61 between Strong and Kulpmont to wait for the Camaro to cross his path, Filarski noticed that the car's vehicle registration light was not properly illuminating the license plate.
Filarski then attempted to stop the Camaro by activating his emergency lights near the Mount Carmel Township/Kulpmont boundary line, but Erb fled at a high rate of speed toward Kulpmont. In the 400 block of Chestnut Street in Kulpmont, Filarski turned on his siren while still having his emergency lights on in an attempt to get Erb to stop. But the driver then drove faster toward the intersection of Sixth and Chestnut streets, where a red light was activated.
Police said Erb then swerved the car into oncoming traffic, passed a vehicle on the left in a double yellow line area and traveled through the red light at a high rate of speed with Filarski in pursuit.
Filarski said Erb traveled between 80 and 100 miles per hour through Kulpmont.
After slowing down his cruiser, Filarski observed Erb still driving erratically in the 1400 block of Chestnut Street. He said Erb swerved his vehicle into oncoming traffic traveling south on Chestnut Street, passed another vehicle in a double yellow line area and almost struck a vehicle head-on before swerving back into his lane of travel.
While swerving into the southbound in the 1400 block of Chestnut Street, police said the Camaro struck a curb, knocked over a stop sign and spun 360 degrees while airborne before coming to rest in the area of some storage sheds in the 1500 block of Chestnut Street.
Erb then attempted to flee the scene on foot despite commands by Filarski to stop running. At the entrance area to the storage sheds, Filarski deployed a Taser gun into Erb's upper back to stop him. Erb then fell to the ground, but ignored Filarski's commands to stay down. Filarski then deployed the Taser gun again on Erb, prompting him to finally comply with Filarski's order to put his hands straight out.
At this time, Kulpmont Patrolman Shane Reamer and Mount Carmel Township Patrolman David Stamets Jr. handcuffed Erb and took him into custody.
Leedom, who had fled the scene on foot while Filarski was chasing Erb, was later apprehended by Shamokin police. As of Wednesday, Leedom had not been charged in the incident, but an investigation is continuing.
A resident of the 1400 block of Chestnut Street, who wished to remain anonymous, said the screeching of the tires seemed to last "for more than a minute."
"I heard the screeching of tires and then a crash," said the resident. "I didn't know what was going on."
After stepping outside to see what was causing the commotion, the resident saw police surround the vehicle and a woman run away from the crash scene.
"I yelled for her to stop and asked if she was involved in the accident," said the resident. "She said she was, but she kept running."
Several other residents also saw the woman on a cell phone as she left the area.
Erb was initially transported to Mount Carmel Township Police Station, where he was treated by emergency medical personnel before being taken to Shamokin Area Community Hospital after complaining of back, neck, elbow and knee injuries. Erb was examined by doctors at SACH and underwent x-rays. He also submitted to a blood test before being released and eventually incarcerated at the county prison.
Upon further investigation, police learned that the Pennsylvania registration EVN-4876 displayed on the Camaro operated by Erb came back to a vehicle owned by Robert J. Erb III, and should be displayed on a 2002 Chevrolet Malibu. The Camaro, which should display a Pennsylvania registration of HDX-0546, is owned by Brian Ross Jr., police said.
Arthur Mickel, 46, of Atlas, was charged by Mount Carmel Township Patrolman Kelly Campbell with aggravated assault, simple assault, recklessly endangering another person, resisting arrest, flight to avoid apprehension, driving under suspension and damage to an attended vehicle or property in connection with an assault in Atlas and an accident in the Bear Gap area following a police pursuit on April 14.
Mickel suffered two broken ankles in a 25-foot fall from the third floor of a farmhouse near Numidia, where he was captured April 16.
Mickel's live-in girlfriend, Becky Lee Donner, 25, also was charged by Campbell in the case with criminal attempt to commit simple assault and making false reports to police.
Another defendant in the case, John Gilbert, 42, of 458 Columbia Ave., Atlas, was charged by Campbell with criminal conspiracy to commit simple assault and resisting arrest.
Michael Charles Linkchorst, 29, of Shenandoah, was charged by Mount Carmel Township Patrolman David Stamets Jr. with multiple offenses in connection with a May 23 high-speed chase along Route 901 stretching from Locust Gap to the 901 Pub that culminated when Linkchorst drove his car into a police cruiser.
Tina M. Layton, 23, of Ringtown, who was a passenger in Linkchorst's black Chevrolet Camaro Z28 during the chase, also was charged with simple assault, resisting arrest, harassment and public drunkenness.
Bernard J. Kawa Jr., 46, of Ashland, was killed June 1 in a crash involving a motorcycle and sport utility vehicle on Route 54 near Strong in Mount Carmel Township.
The incident began just outside of Ashland, where a borough police officer clocked Kawa traveling at 71 miles per hour and attempted to pull over the operator. But Kawa fled the scene at a high rate of speed and a pursuit ensued. The officer backed off the pursuit for safety's sake near Locust Gap, but Kawa reportedly continued traveling at a high rate of speed before crashing into the rear of a Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo.