Philipsburg man charged after chase that caused 2 crashes on Port Matilda Highway

Crash on U.S. Route 322 after police chase

A passerby took video of a police chase on July 10 that ended in a crash on U.S. Route 322 between Port Matilda and Philipsburg and caused a traffic backlog for two hours.
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A passerby took video of a police chase on July 10 that ended in a crash on U.S. Route 322 between Port Matilda and Philipsburg and caused a traffic backlog for two hours.

A Philipsburg man fleeing state police who were attempting to arrest him caused two crashes that caused traffic backups on the Port Matilda Highway for two hours Wednesday afternoon, police said.

Michael Allen Parkes, 54, was charged Wednesday with one felony count of aggravated assault, one felony count of fleeing or attempting to elude a police officer and misdemeanor counts of DUI, reckless endangerment, resisting arrest, flight to avoid apprehension, and simple assault, terroristic threats and harassment related to a protection from abuse violation.

“He was involved in a PFA violation earlier in the day, he fled the scene and that’s what led to (the chase),” said Trooper James Ensor, who was the arresting officer with state police at Clearfield.

State police responded Wednesday afternoon to a report of Parkes showing up to a woman’s house in Morrisdale, grabbing her by the throat and saying he was going to kill her. He then dragged her outside, where she managed to break free and call police, according to the affidavit.

Around 2:13 p.m. on Wednesday, Ensor spotted Parkes outside of his vehicle on Empire Road in Morris Township, Clearfield County and tried to make contact with him because “he was wanted for a PFA violation,” according to the affidavit. Parkes got in his vehicle and fled on Empire Road toward state Route 53 and Ensor followed, activating his emergency light to initiate a traffic stop.

Parkes did not stop and continued south on Route 53, then fled east onto U.S. Route 322/Port Matilda Highway. Another state police trooper tried to stop Parkes by blocking the roadway and activating his emergency lights, but Parkes continued “at a high rate of speed” close to the vehicle, putting the trooper “at risk of serious bodily harm or death,” said the affidavit.

Ensor estimated the chase went on for about six or seven miles, and said it “would’ve continued but it ended with me having to PIT (Pursuit Intervention Technique) him.”

PIT is a maneuver used by police to safely end a pursuit that might endanger the public, Ensor said. It typically involves the pursuing car bumping the fleeing car in the side near the rear wheel, which causes the fleeing car to spin out, according to pursuitresponse.org.

Parkes’ vehicle crashed and flipped just east of the rest stop on Port Matilda Highway as a result of the PIT, and another trooper had to use his Taser to take Parkes into custody, said the affidavit.

The crash led to a backlog on the road, and state police called Hope Fire Company fire police for traffic control, according to the fire company’s Facebook post. In the traffic jam, another accident occurred west of the initial crash, and the road was clogged at a standstill until 4:30 p.m. when traffic started moving slowly again. Hope Fire Company provided on scene aid for the second crash and Moshannon Valley EMS also responded, said the fire company.

“During the pursuit Parkes operated his vehicle with complete disregard for the safety of other motorists on the roadway,” said the affidavit.

Ensor, in the affidavit, said he could smell a strong odor of alcohol coming from Parkes, who also had bloodshot eyes and slurred speech. Inside Parkes’ car, Ensor saw an open bottle of Calico Jack Rum in the passenger compartment.

Parkes pleaded guilty in 2012 to felony interference with custody of children and misdemeanor terroristic threats in the Centre County Court of Common Pleas and was sentenced to three years probation.

Parkes is being held at the Clearfield County jail, where he is unable to post bail. His preliminary hearing is scheduled for Wednesday.

Sarah Paez covers Centre County communities, government and town and gown relations for the Centre Daily Times. She studied English and Spanish at Cornell University and grew up outside of Washington, D.C.