Coatesville man ‘runs’ into trou­ble

Al­bert Ed­wards faces new charges for flee­ing from po­lice

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - FRONT PAGE - By Michael P. Rel­la­han mrel­la­han@21st-cen­tu­ry­ @Ch­escoCourtNews on Twit­ter

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.

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