A San Bernardino, Calif., man faces felony charges after leading police on a chase that began in Butler County and ended in Richland after his car hit three vehicles, injuring a 25-year-old man in one of the crashes.
Jose Rios, 41, was charged today with felony counts of aggravated assault, escape and fleeing and eluding a law-enforcement officer. He also faces two misdemeanor charges of accident involving damage to occupied vehicle or property and a summary offense of reckless driving.
About 7 p.m. Monday, Middlesex police received a report of a suspicious person and vehicle outside a home in the 1200 block of Pittsburgh Road in Valencia.
Township police Sgt. Randy Ruediger wrote in a criminal complaint that he saw a man standing by the driver's side door of a car in the 1300 block and pulled in behind, turning on his lights because he was in unmarked police car and wanted the driver to know he was a police officer.
The man, later identified as Mr. Rios, pointed and said his friends were in the house, when asked if he was supposed to be there, the sergeant wrote.
Mr. Rios asked if he could leave, and the sergeant said yes, then checked with Butler County dispatch. He learned Mr. Rios' was the car in question and that the caller didn't know its registered owner.
The sergeant followed but said he waited for an Adams police backup unit before turning on his lights.
Mr. Rios made a U-turn onto Mars Valencia Road and drove north, going around cars, then east on Route 228, according to the complaint.
Northern Regional police Chief Bob Amann said Mr. Rios hit two vehicles about a quarter of a mile north of Northtowne Square leaving the occupants "shaken" but uninjured, he said.
A short time later, Mr. Rios lost control of the car and struck a sedan attempting to turn onto Route 8, the chief said. The man in that car, Matthew Conte of Richland, was flown by medical helicopter to a Pittsburgh hospital in serious condition.
Middlesex police said Mr. Rios told them he was running from officers because he wanted to kill himself.
Richland police were reconstructing the crashes and charges are pending there.
The crash caused slight traffic delays on Route 8, with southbound traffic rerouted through the northbound lane.
Lexi Belculfine and Lee Purvey contributed. Molly Born: email@example.com or 412-263-1944. Twitter: @borntolede. First Published June 17, 2013 9:15 PM