Man jailed following vehicle theft and high-speed chase

A Beaver County man was locked on high bail after allegedly stealing a pickup truck from downtown Williamsport and taking area police on a lengthy high-speed chase Tuesday night before pulling off a road entering Nisbet and surrendering to authorities.

The pursuit lasted nearly 30 minutes and covered a large area that exceeded 20 miles, city police said.

Taken into custody in a driveway off of East Village Drive at the rear of the Sunoco Food Mart in Nisbet was Gabriel Strano, 35, of Aliquippa, police said.

During the pursuit, Strano struck a Pennsylvania College of Technology police cruiser driven by Patrolman Justin Hakes three times, disabling the car in the third collision.

Strano stole the unoccupied truck while its engine was running in the parking lot of the Holiday Inn, 100 Pine St. about 7:10 p.m., police said. The vehicle is owned by ProFrac Services of Cisco, Texas, according to city Patrolman Nicholas Carrita, the lead investigator in the case who filed the criminal charges.

A city officer on routine patrol spotted Strano in the vehicle in the 100 block of Maynard Street minutes after it was reported stolen, police said. Efforts to get the driver to stop were unsuccessful.

The chase continued through parts of downtown and then on to I-180 West to the Reach Road interchange, where Strano got off only to get right back on, this time heading east on I-180, police said.

Carrita said Strano also collided head-on with a city police cruiser driven by Sgt. Brian McGee, but the officer could continue in the pursuit, unlike Hakes. Neither officer was injured, police said. Strano also was not hurt.

Numerous other police agencies joined city police in the pursuit, including South Williamsport and multiple state police units.

Strano traveled on 15 North to Hepburnville, exited and then got on Route 15 South, heading back into Williamsport, police said, adding that he traveled through Newberry and across the Arch Street bridge into DuBoistown, police said.

He traveled on several streets in the borough before heading west on Route 654 towards Nisbet, where he soon ended the pursuit and just gave up about 7:40 p.m., police said.

Speeds ranged from 35 to 70 mph during the chase, Carrita said.

Strano was charged with felony theft, receiving stolen property, fleeing police, two counts each of aggravated assault and accidents involving damage to attended vehicle (hit-run) and several summary traffic violations.

At his arraignment early Wednesday morning before District Judge Jerry C. Lepley, Strano told the judge he “just got out of rehab” on Tuesday.

Police requested high bail, saying Strano had a history of drug use and was a flight risk. He was committed to the Lycoming County Prison in lieu of $250,000 bail.


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