Avella man jailed after crashing into state police cruiser

August 19, 2014

An Avella man is in Allegheny County jail on several charges after he allegedly stole a pickup truck from a Fallowfield Township home and then crashed it into a state police cruiser, injuring a trooper, on the Parkway West (Interstate 376) in Pittsburgh Monday morning.

John Domenic Bracken Jr., 25, of 147 Cedar Grove Road, is accused of stealing a 2012 Dodge Ram 2500 pickup truck from a home on Kevech Road in Fallowfield Township, about 1:35 a.m. Monday. The truck is owned by the resident’s employer, 18 Karat, of 211 Mitchell Road, Somerset Township.

The truck was being tracked through a global positioning system. About 9 a.m., the truck was tracked going east on the parkway in the Green Tree hill area.

Troopers were notified and able to make contact with the vehicle, state police said. Bracken was ordered to stop, but police said he continued to drive east at an accelerated speed. He then struck another trooper’s marked cruiser, causing the air bags to deploy.

Bracken tried to flee on foot, crossing the Jersey barrier into the westbound lanes, when he was apprehended by the trooper who initially tried to stop him. Police said Bracken was caught before crossing the westbound lanes.

The trooper who was in the cruiser that was struck had to be freed from his vehicle. He was taken to UPMC-Mercy hospital in Pittsburgh for treatment of minor injuries and later released. He was not identified by state police.

Traffic in both eastbound lanes was shut down for about 45 minutes.

Bracken is charged by state police at the Pittsburgh station with receiving stolen property, carrying a firearm without a license, aggravated assault, person not to possess a firearm, reckless endangerment, criminal mischief, unauthorized use of a vehicle, fleeing or attempting to elude police and traffic violations.

The Avella man is also wanted on a Washington County bench warrant issued by Judge John DiSalle in January for violating his probation. Bracken was sentenced to one to two years in jail after pleading guilty to 29 counts of burglary. McDonald police arrested him in connection with a burglary ring that targeted almost two dozen homes, barns, storage sheds and businesses in 2010 and 2011 in Robinson, Chartiers, Cecil and Mt. Pleasant townships. He also was placed on probation for 15 years.

He is in jail on $50,000 bond.

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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