A 14-year-old male is in critical condition after allegedly stealing a car and leading police on a high-speed chase near Churchill, Pa., for several hours on Sunday.
The suspect, whose name has not been released because of his age, is accused of stealing a 2001 Jeep Cherokee from Penn Hills, Pa. and driving it erratically, according to ForestHills-RegentSquare.Patch.com
Several people, including the car owner, called 911 to report the stolen vehicle as well as the erratic driving.
Penn HIlls police attempted to stop the car in a high-speed pursuit that ended after one mile when the Jeep Cherokee crashed and rolled over several times before coming to a stop, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
Brandon DiGiorgio, whose car was hit by the stolen vehicle, said the Jeep Cherokee literally flew in the air when it crashed.
“All of the sudden, I looked out of my peripheral vision, and I saw the, I guess you can call it the suspect’s car, pull up beside me, swerve, strike me on the passenger side where I was, swerve back over to the left, strike the guardrail and then begin flipping end over end,” DiGiorgio told KDKA-TV.
Police said the suspect flew 30 feet out of the car upon the crash, suggesting he was not wearing a seatbelt. He was taken to UPMC Mercy hospital and is reportedly in a medically-induced coma in critical but stable condition.
His mother, whose name has not been released, said her son will need surgery, including plastic surgery, on the left side of his body.
She also told WTAE-TV that the owner of the stolen car bears some responsibility for leaving her keys in an unlocked car.
“I'm not downplaying my son's role in taking something that didn't belong to him, but I am saying they actually left their keys in the car and the vehicle could have been taken by anybody,” she told the station.
“He had no right to chase my son, which it could have been a situation. Maybe it could have been just a joyride down the street. Maybe he wanted to go farther than he felt like walking,” she said.
The Jeep's owner doesn't agree:
“She’s telling me I’m irresponsible? You didn’t even know where your child was. Where were you?” Leon griped to WTAE-TV. “I worked four jobs while I went to school, approximately 100 hours a week. I had bought my car (with) cash that was mine."
Pennsylvania State Police Trooper Robin Mungo told the station leaving keys in the car may be irresponsible, but not against the law.
The crash caused a four-and-a-half hour road closure.
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