Centre Hall man allegedly leads police on slow chase

A Centre Hall man is facing felony evasion and DUI charges after leading police on a chase on Sept. 18.

According to the criminal complaint filed by Ferguson Township police, an officer on roving patrol at about 1:50 a.m. on Martin Street observed a blue Jeep exiting the parking lot of Northland Bowl. The vehicle was reportedly traveling in the oncoming traffic lane, causing the officer to slow down and stop to avoid being struck.

The officer turned around to conduct a traffic stop, police said, but a second vehicle came between the officer and the Jeep. The officer kept the Jeep in sight along Martin, allegedly observing the driver crossing the center line as he drove.

After crossing North Atherton Street onto Vairo Boulevard, the officer activated his lights at the intersection of Vairo and Waddle Road, police said. The officer attempted to exit his car and approach the driver while stopped at a red light, but the Jeep reportedly started moving again once the light was green.

Additional officers joined as the vehicle approached the intersection near Clearview Avenue, police said, following the Jeep at about 15 mph. The driver was observed straddling the center lane and weaving within his lane.

Officers followed the Jeep onto state Route 322 eastbound, police said, traveling at about 40 mph. Officers attempted to deploy a spike strip, but the driver passed them before the strip could be laid out.

The driver eventually pulled off onto the left side of the road along the 3700 block of Route 322, police said. Officers approached the vehicle and attempted to order the driver from the car, but he allegedly remained motionless and didn’t acknowledge the officers.

The driver, identified as Donald Hart, 56, was removed from the car and handcuffed, police said. He reportedly told police, “I’m sorry I didn’t stop. I didn’t realize you were looking for me.”

Hart was described as unsteady on his feet with a strong odor of alcohol, police said. A blood draw tested by Pennsylvania state police labs showed a BAC of .226 percent.

Hart was arraigned Wednesday before District Judge Ronald Horner, according to court documents, and charged with a felony count of fleeing officers, two misdemeanor DUI charges and summary offenses of driving without a license and disregarding traffic lanes. Unsecured bail was set at $5,000.

A preliminary hearing is slated for Dec. 7.

Jeremy Hartley: 814-231-4616, @JJHartleyNews