As darkness fell Wednesday night, dozens of law enforcement officers were combing a heavily wooded area in the 6500 block of Route 973 West in Anthony Township for a man who bailed out a heavily damaged car following a high-speed chase that reached speeds of 100 mph.
The suspect may be armed as police officers would not confirm that shots may have been fired during the pursuit.
The pursuit began about 7 p.m. in the 1000 block of West Fourth Street and reached speeds of 80 to 100 mph through the city's West End and continuing on numerous rural roads in Old Lycoming, Hepburn, Lycoming and Anthony Townships Road.
"It was a pretty hairy pursuit," admitted one city police officer.
The pursuit occurred on more than two dozen avenues and road, including Bottle Run, Daughertys Run, Beautys Run, Almost Country and Queneshaque roads.
At the intersection of Windy Ridge and Myers roads, just south of Route 973 West in Anthony Township, one of the city police cruisers involved in the pursuit became disabled and was damaged.
Police would not say if the damage was the result of the cruiser colliding with the offending vehicle, which was believed to be a Volkswagen Jetta, or hitting an embankment.
The officer, whose identity was not released, was being treated at the crash scene by emergency medical technicians for minor muscle strain.
The driver of the Jetta, which also may have been damaged, managed to flee with the car.
In addition to city police, officers from several surrounding communities took part in the pursuit, which ended on Water Company Road, a no-outlet dirt road, where the driver reportedly jumped out and fled into the woods?
"We don't know if this guy is injured or not," city Police Chief Gregory Foresman said at a command post that had been set up in the 6700 block of Route 973 and Water Company Road.
"Here, once again, we're waiting for a state police helicopter from Hazleton. We're being inhibited in our search because we have to wait so long," Foresman said.
His frustration was over the state police decision more than two years ago to pull their helicopter out of the Williamsport Regional Airport at Montoursville.
A helicopter finally did arrived to assist with the search shortly after 10 p.m
In the meantime, officers searched remote cabins, barns and others structures for the fugitive, who was described as white, heavyset, weighing 180 to 280 pounds, long brown hair, wearing khaki pants and sneakers.
About the time the helicopter was arriving, police were receiving reports of possible sightings of the suspect walking in a creek in the 100 block of Jobs Run Road. There was another report of a man running down the road in the 6400 block of Route 287.
Residents in the immediate area of the search were told to lock their doors as the suspected remained at large.