Coatesville man ‘runs’ into trouble
Albert Edwards faces new charges for fleeing from police
WEST CHESTER >> Things might have gone better for Albert Edwards if he’d just stayed put.
Instead, by running from the scene of a car that crashed after a brief but high-speed chase from West Chester into West Goshen last December, Edwards was charged with fleeing from police to avoid apprehension, a felony.
And because he is an ex-convict, his simple act of running away led to a sentence Tuesday of 16 months to five years in state prison.
“If Mr. Edwards had simply stayed put, there wouldn’t have been any new charges against him,” acknowledged his attorney, Stuart Crichton of West Chester, at the sentencing hearing before Judge Patrick Carmody. “But now, a young man will lose a year of his life from a one-minute decision.”
Edwards, 28, of Coatesville will also now face a sentence in a violation of his state parole of 17 months, run consecutively to the new sentence, Crichton said.
“I do apologize for what happened,” Edwards said in a low husky voice during the brief proceedings before Carmody, who had presided over Edward’s July trial at which he’d been convicted of the flight charge. Jurors were able to watch as the car that Edwards was a passenger in raced down alleys and crossed into oncoming traffic as it tried to outrun first a West Chester patrol car and then a West Goshen cruiser.
“I never wanted it to happen,” he told Carmody. “I jumped out of the car and I ran. I was scared.”
Although there was little suggestion at the sentencing before Carmody that Edwards had been anything more than a passive par-
“If Mr. Edwards had simply stayed put, there wouldn’t have been any new charges against him. But now, a young man will lose a year of his life from a oneminute decision. — Patrick Carmody, Chester County judge
ticipant in the chase, Carmody made certain that Edwards knew how dangerous the situation had been, not only for the others on the road that night but for him and the driver, his cousin, Steven Reeves.
“Every time you turn around today, some police officer is getting shot, or some civilian is getting shot,” the judge remarked. “It is a dangerous environment out there. I applaud the police officers in this case for using restraint. But they didn’t know what they were dealing with.”
Assistant District Attorney Brian Burack, who prosecuted the case, reminded Carmody how harrowing the brief chase was.
“This was dangerous,” Burack said, in making his request for a 16 month to five year jail term. “Police officers put their lives on the line every day, and when they chase people down it puts them in danger.”
According to the criminal complaint filed in the case by West Chester Officer Brad Bergey, he was on patrol around 3:30 a.m. on Dec. 19 at the intersection of East Market and South Matlack streets when he saw a Chevrolet SUV traveling the wrong way on South Matlack Street. He tried to pull it over, but the SUV turned and sped away, first down Cedar Alley, and then onto railroad Alley and East Market, narrowly missing three cars that were on the road at the time.
Bergey gave chase, and stated that the SUV reached about 90 miles per hour as it traveled east on Market Street. Notified of the chase, West Goshen Officers Wesley Holman and Timothy Reilly joined in the pursuit, as did West Chester Officer Jason Francart. At one point, Reeves, the driver of the SUV, crossed into the oncoming lane of traffic on West Chester Pike, driving eastbound in the westbound lane.
The chase came to an end as Reeves tried to turn onto North Five Points Road, but lost control and sun into a parking lot there, finally coming to rest as the vehicle’s tires were shredded. Both men, Reeves and Edwards, jumped from the car, with Reeves being apprehended by Reilly in the shopping center on North
Five Points Road.
Edwards was able to run into the parking lot of a nearby Applebee’s Restaurant, where Bergey and Francart tackled him after he tripped over a traffic median.
Checking, they learned that Edwards was wanted on a warrant for a state parole violation, allegedly for not returning to a halfway house in Chester where he was supposed to be living after his release from state prison earlier that year. He had been serving a sentence for another fleeing charge.
Burack said that although
it was unclear who had decided to initiate the flight — Reeves attempted to blame Edwards after he was apprehended, according to Bergey’s report — Edwards was hardly an “unwitting participant.”
“He was wanted, and he knew he was wanted,” Burack said.
“He knew if he got caught, he’d been in trouble,” Carmody said.
Reeves has pleaded guilty and is awaiting sentencing.