Huntingdon County’s president judge has asked state police to release from evidence a stolen rental vehicle used in a high speed chase that lasted for over 30 miles and ended with a crash and injuries.
The request was made Thursday by District Attorney David Smith, who said the owner’s insurance provider needs to assess the damage sustained when Jacob Bridges lost control of the Toyota Corolla sedan and drove it into a tree on Cooks Road.
The assessment will be used to calculate restitution. Without restitution, the case can’t move forward, Smith said.
Judge George Zanic put in an order for state police at Huntingdon to turn over the vehicle to Enterprise Rent-a-Car so the insurance process can begin.
Bridges, 32, of Altoona, is charged with multiple felonies as a result of the Aug. 24 incident which started in Mount Union Borough and concluded in the Broad Top. The chase also wound its way through a portion of Fulton County.
Bridges is charged with fleeing or attempting to elude an officer, flight to avoid apprehension, two counts of aggravated assault by vehicle and receiving stolen property — all of which are felony 3 offenses.
He is also charged with two counts of recklessly endangering another person, possession of drug paraphernalia and 29 summary traffic violations.
Bridges, represented by attorney Tim Burns of Ebensburg, has been incarcerated since the day of the incident, unable to post $150,000 cash bail.
Burns said he’s hopeful his client and the district attorney can reach an agreement in the near future.
“We are very close to a plea,” Burns said and asked Zanic to schedule a pre-trial conference in 30 days. Zanic granted Burns’ request but also scheduled the case for jury selection in January in the event the parties can’t reach an agreement.
According to the criminal complaint, Troopers Logan Fluke and Cody Booher were conducting traffic enforcement in Mount Union in the early a.m. when they spotted the Corolla which came up as stolen when they ran its numbers.
The troopers attempted a traffic stop but the Corolla gave chase along the borough’s streets. The chase continued south on Route 747, reaching speeds of over 95 mph.
The Corolla entered Three Springs and from Hudson Street headed south on Route 655 where it entered Fulton County. State police at McConnellsburg provided assistance by attempting to conduct a spike deployment at Dublin Mills Road; the effort produced no results and the chase continued onto Blacks Mountain Road, then Route 913, Route 655 North, then back onto Route 913.
Police say the Corolla hit a sign at Cliff Street in Robertsdale and when it re-entered Route 913, became partially airborne.
From Route 913, the Corolla turned onto Cooks Road and while attempting to negotiate a right curve, left the roadway and struck a tree.
Police say the crash resulted in multiple airbag deployments and injuries among the three occupants: Bridges, a pregnant woman who was sitting in the front passenger seat and a male who was seated in the backseat. All three were transported for medical evaluation.
According to the complaint, Bridges told police the rental car had been stolen from him. The backseat passenger, who sustained a significant leg injury in the crash, told police Bridges was the subject of an active warrant and that’s why he fled from police.
Police say a search of the vehicle yielded six glass marijuana pipes, metal grinder, THC vape cartridge, a black rubber container with marijuana wax residue, a plastic smoking device and five pills.
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