By Joe Beck
Witnesses to the police chase through the middle of Strasburg on Thursday night said all of the vehicles involved were moving at very high speeds.
Leslie Stover of Strasburg was traveling with her husband and 3-year-old daughter on U.S. 11 near Castiglia's restaurant when the two police cars and the suspect's vehicle sped past them in the middle lane. The police cars had their lights and sirens operating, but they still seemed to appear from nowhere to Stover.
"It was very unsettling," Stover said, adding, "We didn't see anything until they were right on top of us."
A Strasburg police car joined Middletown police during the chase through downtown Strasburg at 9:35 p.m. Thursday.
Middletown Chief R. Philip Breeden said the suspect had been stopped during a traffic stop in Middletown and it had "escalated into a narcotics seizure.'' He said the suspect was wanted on felony warrants from elsewhere in the state and narcotics violations.
Kingston Ruffner of Strasburg said he had just gotten off of work at Charlie's restaurant on the south end of town when he and co-worker Hunter Caricofe encountered the chase as Caricofe began to turn his car left from the Handy Mart onto West King Street.
"At a distance, it looked like we had plenty of space, but after we pulled out, they were right there," Ruffner said, referring to the chase.
Ruffner said the other cars were traveling "bumper to bumper" and missed Caricofe's by less than a foot as they pulled into the street.
Chuck Billow, the owner of Charlie's a short distance down the street, described the scene outside his restaurant as "just chaos" after a police car crashed into an embankment only a few yards away from his building.
Billow said he didn't see the accident, but he heard it above the karaoke music playing in the restaurant.
"It was just a very loud crash, that's what I heard," he said.
He said several people he talked to who were outside the restaurant or on the road in their cars came in shaken by what they had seen.
Billow said the police car that veered right off the road into the embankment could have struck customers standing outside his restaurant if it had gone off to the left.
"I heard from a lot of people it was ridiculous going through town at those speeds," Billow said. "It's very, very lucky nobody was killed."
Contact staff writer Joe Beck at 540-465-5137 ext. 142, or firstname.lastname@example.org