Details underscore impact of tragic city police chase

The details of the crash in the midst of a city police chase a few weeks ago only underline how split-second decisions can change many lives forever. According to state police, the city patrolman responding on East Third Street to back up a rookie officer a few blocks away was driving 101 mph in a 35 mph zone.

City Police Capt. Timothy Miller said Officer Jonathan Deprenda, who has been charged with vehicular and involuntary manslaughter, received radio transmission that the officer had a suspect at gunpoint.

It’s not difficult to imagine at that moment how instantaneously focused the responding officer was on getting to the scene to help with the scene in which his fellow officer was involved.

That doesn’t change the fact that an innocent motorist was killed. Capt. Miller correctly acknowledged that “could have been any of our loved ones” and the incident has forever changed the city police department.

Lycoming County District Attorney Eric R. Linhardt has asked for additional information from state police before deciding how to proceed. He’s got an unenviable task in ruling on this case.

There were plenty of mistakes made in this tragedy, starting with pursuit that flies in the face of state vehicle code specifications and continuing with the too-slow release of information regarding the tragedy. The long-term fallout is the psychological wound on the city Bureau of Police.

There is room to blame the department for this tragedy, but let’s not forget what a tough job the department has these days and how well the policemen do it most of the time.