Bethel Park man charged in Canonsburg chase

April 1, 2014

A Bethel Park man was charged Tuesday by Canonsburg police on a long list of charges stemming from a chase that started early Friday as a traffic stop for an equipment violation.

Gerald W. Obiecunas III, 28, of 1300 Highfield Court, reportedly led police on a high-speed chase that ended with a foot pursuit off Morganza Road in North Strabane Township.

Sgt. James Spingola attempted to stop Obiecunas about 3:20 a.m. for having a burned out headlight and not having insurance. Obiecunas turned onto Morganza Road and then McClelland Road. He was going too fast to make the left turn onto Interstate 79 northbound and hit the median. Spingola indicated Obiecunas was going 80 mph when he got on the highway. He got off on Southpointe Boulevard and headed back to Morganza, where his vehicle hit a guardrail. He then went into the median.

After Obiecunas backed off the median, Spingola said his vehicle was facing the Bethel Park man’s vehicle. As Obiecunas was turning around, he struck the push bar on the police sport utility vehicle before fleeing again.

The chase continued down Morganza Road. The tire fell off the rim of the car, and he again hit a guardrail. North Strabane police were waiting for the driver at a bridge on Morganza. Obiecunas pulled over, got out and started to run.

Officer James Eckels discharged this Taser twice, but was unable to stop him. Spingola said the second time the Taser was used, Obiecunas was struck but he rolled over a hill and the Taser leads stretched until they snapped.

Obiecunas told Spingola that he fled because he did not want to be arrested again for drunken driving.

He will be arraigned at a later date before District Judge David Mark on charges including fleeing or attempting to elude police, hit and run involving an occupied vehicle, aggravated assault, hit and run involving unattended property, resisting arrest and various traffic violations.

Kathie O. Warco has covered the police beat and transportation for the Observer-Reporter for more than 25 years. She graduated from Duquesne University with a degree in journalism.

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