North Atherton Street police chase

Woman hurt in North Atherton Street crash denies drug charges

mcarroll@centredaily.comMay 23, 2013 

— A Bellefonte woman who was seriously injured in a car crash on North Atherton Street testified Wednesday that the 16 bags of heroin found in her purse after the wreck were put there by the driver of the vehicle.

Alicia Gardner, 29, and the driver, Stacy Henry, 37, of Mill Hall, were charged with felony drug counts last week stemming from the crash, which authorities said happened when Henry fled from police at high speeds.

“He said, ‘We’re going for it,’ ” Gardner testified Wednesday.

Prosecutors called Gardner to the stand to testify against Henry at his preliminary hearing. Henry now faces possible trial in the case, after all the charges against him were bound over Wednesday.

Gardner, who was ejected from the vehicle during the crash and broke her neck, spine and pelvis, wore a neck brace and approached the stand using a walker.

While she denied the drugs found in her purse belonged to her, Gardner also faces a felony drug count. She waived her right to a preliminary hearing Wednesday and also faces possible trial in the case.

State police at Rockview have said, at the time of the crash, the two were wanted for allegedly trafficking large amounts of heroin to the area and selling the drugs from the Econolodge motel on the Benner Pike.

On the day of the crash, police were following Henry’s vehicle from a home outside Bellefonte after conducting a controlled buy with someone said to be supplied by Gardner and a man matching Henry’s description, police said.

An investigating officer testified Wednesday that Henry noticed an unmarked police car following his vehicle and began to drive aggressively, at one point traveling through a red light.

A traffic stop was initiated in the Walmart parking lot on North Atherton Street. Henry stopped and Gardner exited the vehicle, but was ordered to return to the car by police.

Gardner testified she wanted no part of the alleged drug deal and was pleading with Henry to allow her to leave the vehicle.

When Gardner was ordered back inside, Henry allegedly drove off at a high rate of speed. His car ran another red light and struck another vehicle then a lamp post and street sign before landing on its roof in the Penn State Federal Credit Union parking lot.

Gardner was ejected during the crash.

Police said they found 16 bags of heroin, a digital scale, a small amount of marijuana and $8,000 in Gardner’s purse.

Henry remains in the Centre County Correctional Facility on $100,000 bail. Gardner is free on $10,000 unsecured bail.

Matt Carroll can be reached at 231-4631. Follow him on Twitter @Carrollreporter.

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