Baltimore youth, 17, arrested in Carroll after 14-mile car chase that hit 120 mph

Teen's charges include assault on state trooper

April 30, 2002|By Sheridan Lyons | Sheridan Lyons,SUN STAFF

A 17-year-old Baltimore youth was arrested early yesterday and accused of leading three state troopers on a 14-mile chase - at speeds up to 120 mph - from southeast of Westminster to the Pennsylvania line, where a trooper's car was rammed, authorities said.

Leonard B. Rhoton IV of the 1200 block of Union Ave. was being held on $50,000 bail set by a Carroll County District Court commissioner on 24 traffic citations and five criminal charges, including first-degree assault on the trooper, who was not injured. A 16-year-old passenger was charged as a juvenile and released, authorities said.

"Obviously, this event was extremely dangerous for the troopers that were engaged in the pursuit of this vehicle ... as well as a danger for the individuals who were operating the vehicle," said Lt. Terry L. Katz, the Westminster barracks commander. "Fortunately, in this case the troopers were able to make an apprehension with no injuries."

The chase, which lasted about 10 minutes, began shortly after 2 a.m. on Route 140 east of Bethel Road, where Troopers Tim Zendgraft and Charles Leonard, working a radar trap, recorded a car traveling west at 92 mph in a 55 mph zone, according to charging documents. Zendgraft and Leonard, who was in an unmarked car, turned on their lights and sirens, but the 1997 Dodge Stratus sped into Westminster, where it ran a red light at Route 140 and Malcolm Drive.

Trooper Jon Hill joined the pursuit in Westminster, but the car continued from Route 140 to Route 97 north with speeds "up to 120 mph in a posted 55" mph zone, according to Zendgraft's account in the charging documents.

From Route 97, the driver turned right onto Old Hanover Road at 90 mph. Traveling toward Leppo Road, where Hill had positioned his police car to block the road, the driver of the Dodge slowed, and the Dodge rammed Hill's car, according to the charging documents. The chase ended with the crash.

A search of the Dodge turned up a small plastic bag of marijuana, a soft drink can with holes punched in it and residue inside, and a pint bottle of brandy under the vehicle, according to charging documents.

A breath-alcohol test registered 0.05, below the legal limit, but because alcohol is illegal for juveniles, Rhoton was charged with driving under the influence.

In addition to first-degree assault, Rhoton was charged with causing more than $600 damage to the police car, unauthorized use of the Dodge, and possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia.

The 24 traffic citations include one for aggressive driving, a law that took effect in October and covers three or more violations at once, punishable by a $350 fine.

The other citations include speeding, reckless driving, failing to stay in designated lanes, failing to stop for a red light, and failing to wear a seat belt.

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