CLEARFIELD – A Woodland man, who has been accused of leading local police on a high-speed pursuit for over 12 miles, waived his right to a preliminary hearing during centralized court on Wednesday.
Richard Earl Harris IV, 21, has been charged by Officer Levi Olson of the Lawrence Township police with fleeing or attempting to elude an officer, F3, aggravated assault, F1, and aggravated assault, F2.
He has also been charged with unauthorized use of motor/other vehicles, M2; two counts of accident involving damage to attended vehicle/property, M3; accidents involving death or personal injury, M1; use/possession of drug paraphernalia, M; and nine summaries.
According to the affidavit of probable cause, at approximately 3:12 a.m. May 21, Olson was stationary in a marked patrol unit and facing west along the Clearfield-Shawville Highway near the Interstate 80, Exit 120, off-ramp.
Olson observed a gray Sedan traveling east at a high rate of speed. Its driver accelerated as the vehicle went by Olson’s patrol unit.
Olson said that the driver wouldn’t have been able to safely stop for any vehicles and specifically tractor-trailers exiting Sapp Bros. Truck Stop.
Olson followed the suspect vehicle and observed its driver starting to turn right into the lower parking lot at Sapp Bros. Olson activated his emergency lights and followed to attempt a traffic stop. The driver turned left as though he was pulling into a parking spot but made a sharp right turn.
The driver then allegedly accelerated, which caused the rear wheels to skid near multiple parked vehicles. The driver continued toward the back of the lot, where he paused facing westward. When Olson continued toward the suspect vehicle, the driver turned right and accelerated again.
The driver exited the parking lot at a high rate of speed, the affidavit states. Olson radioed for Officer Zachary Cowan to respond to the scene, and Olson resumed his pursuit.
According to the affidavit, the suspect vehicle swerved into the oncoming lane several times. The pursuit headed east on Route 879 toward Shawville in a series of sharp turns between the truck stop and the township’s line.
Olson’s unit lost traction and slid into the guiderails, causing a dent and scratches along his unit’s passenger’s side. The pursuit continued past the Shawville Power Plant toward Croft, and allegedly reached speeds exceeding 100 miles per hour.
The suspect vehicle continued to swerve into the oncoming lane. It finally turned left onto Manor Lane in Frenchville approximately 8.3 miles from the truck stop. It stopped there due to a large, yellow metal gate across the dirt road.
The driver allegedly accelerated and rammed the vehicle into the gate, breaking it. Olson continued the pursuit and upon reaching a clearing in the woods, he observed the suspect vehicle turning around and heading in his direction. Olson maneuvered his unit to the right to avoid a collision.
Olson proceeded to turn around following the suspect vehicle back out to Manor Lane toward Route 879. He observed the driver making a right turn and heading westbound. Olson radioed Cowan that they were traveling back into his direction.
Cowan alerted Olson that he was behind the suspect vehicle, and Olson directed him to take over. Cowan reported that they were traveling at approximately 124 miles per hour.
Cowan continued to try to catch up to read the registration plate prior to terminating the pursuit. At the exact time, the suspect vehicle began to weave out of the lane as though the driver was losing control.
Cowan applied his brakes as the driver began to execute a U-Turn. In an attempt to end the pursuit, Cowan turned left and began traveling toward the guiderails on the eastbound lane.
The driver allegedly accelerated and the suspect vehicle impacted the passenger’s side front corner of Cowan’s patrol unit. He continued forward scraping along the guiderail and the front of the patrol unit, damaging the push bar.
The driver accelerated and proceeded to exit the roadway on the opposite side. The suspect vehicle then “ramped” the ditch and impacted the ground with its undercarriage. It came to a rest on McCracken Road approximately 4.3 miles from Manor Lane.
When a state police patrol unit pulled onto McCracken Road behind the suspect vehicle, the driver allegedly backed up into its push bar. The male got out and made an attempt to flee on foot but gave up with police ordering him to the ground at gunpoint.
Police subsequently identified the male as Harris and placed him into custody. He told police he had a knife in his pocket, and a pocket knife was located and seized by police.
When Olson spoke with Harris, he stated it was his girlfriend’s car, they had been fighting and he had taken it while she was asleep. He told Olson he was fleeing from officers because he wanted to die. Because of this statement, Harris was taken to the Clearfield Penn Highlands Hospital for a 302 evaluation.
Cowan, along with state troopers, remained at the scene. A blue bong containing residue was allegedly located on the front passenger’s seat in plain view. State police at Clearfield arrived at the scene and conducted a crash investigation. Harris’ vehicle was subsequently towed to be searched for additional evidence.
Olson completed a 302 petition for Harris, who was left in the custody of the hospital staff. Later, officers had to respond back to the hospital to take him into custody. Harris had left after being told he wouldn’t be committed; he was housed at the jail on a 48-hour detainer due to being combative with officers and under the influence.
When Olson returned to the police station, he was contacted by a woman who stated Harris had been advised multiple times that he was not allowed to use the vehicle. She gave police consent to search the vehicle.
During the search, police found a pouch on the driver’s seat. It contained a bag of smaller baggies of green vegetable matter, two grinders, a glass pipe with electrical tape and burnt residue on it.
Police also located two LG cell phones, a knife with electrical tape, an ammunition can with a 7.63 magazine, two 7.62 magazines, a box of 12-guage shotgun shells, several unboxed 12-guage shotgun shells, a 12-guage shotgun, a cutlery knife and a rifle.
Cowan later visited PH Clearfield Hospital for an evaluation due to lower back pain. He was diagnosed with a possible pinched nerve.