Tower City man arraigned on 22 charges related to car pursuit
CATAWISSA - A Tower City man who led officers from 10 stations on an approximate 30-mile, three-county car chase early Sunday morning is behind bars after being arraigned Tuesday on 22 criminal offenses, including felonies of flight to avoid apprehension and fleeing or attempting to elude police.
In addition to two counts each of the felonies, Robert Clair Miller, 36, of 19 Mountain Trail Road, is charged by Conyngham Township Officer-In-Charge Philip Schlegel with three counts of altered, forged or counterfeit documents and plates, two counts of recklessly endangering another person, one count of resisting arrest, three counts of accidents involving damage to an attended vehicle or property, two stop sign violations, and one count each of reckless driving, careless driving, driving under suspension, unauthorized transfer or use of registration, fraudulent use or removal of a registration plate, driving at an unsafe speed and driving without insurance.
Miller was arraigned at 4:10 p.m. Tuesday by Magisterial District Judge Craig Long of Catawissa and committed to Columbia County Prison in Bloomsburg in lieu of $50,000 cash bail. He is scheduled to appear for a preliminary hearing at 3:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 5.
Schlegel said the incident began shortly after midnight with a traffic violation in Aristes and ended more than one hour later when Miller drove on sidewalks in Mount Carmel Borough.
In between, he passed through Ashland, Butler Township, Conyngham Township, Lavelle, Locust Summit, Locustdale and Mount Carmel Township - and some of them twice.
Miller was taken into custody at gunpoint after 1 a.m. at Fifth and Locust streets after police officers used patrol vehicles to pin his Ford Explorer.
According to Schlegel, he was on patrol in Aristes and observed Miller fail to make a complete stop at Mid-Valley Road and Main Street (Route 42). He continued south into Centralia and was driving "all over the road" and almost struck a ditch, Schlegel said.
The officer said he activated his emergency lights while Miller drove on Route 61 toward Ashland. When Miller turned left onto Centre Street, Schlegel said he activated his vehicle's siren.
Schlegel said Miller then decided to speed down Centre Street at about 60 mph, passed a few vehicles and almost struck a pedestrian.
According to a criminal complaint, the chase continued and area officers responded to Schlegel's request for backup, moving from Centre Street onto Hoffman Boulevard and then on back roads in the Gordon area to Route 901 and into Lavelle and over the mountain to Locust Summit. Schlegel said Miller turned on Route 54 toward Locustdale and turned north on Route 61 in Ashland before cutting over to Mount Carmel via Snake Road.
Miller ignored area officers' attempts to pull him over throughout, Schlegel said.
Officers briefly lost track of Miller on the back streets of Mount Carmel before he again was spotted taking Snake Road back toward Ashland. Schlegel said Miller struck a Frackville patrol car at the intersection with Route 61 and escaped capture at the Route 54 intersection.
From there, Miller drove back through Locustdale and Locust Summit, driving over the Merrian Mountain and again onto Mount Carmel's side streets.
On the sidewalk
When Miller drove onto a sidewalk for "a brief moment," Schlegel said "the officer from Frackville decided we needed to get him stopped."
The Frackville officer drove into Miller's Explorer and came to a stop at Fifth and Locust streets. Miller tried to drive off, Schlegel said, but another officer drove into the Explorer head on and blocked it.
Miller was evaluated on scene by emergency medical personnel and transported to Geisinger Medical Center, Danville. He was later released into police custody and jailed in Columbia County Prison on outstanding bench warrants from both Northumberland and Schuylkill counties.
Assisting Conyngham Township police were officers from Frackville, Mount Carmel, Mount Carmel Township, Shenandoah, Mahanoy Township, Butler Township, Ashland, Ralpho Township and state police at Frackville.