A Lehigh County driver is facing numerous charges after police said he dragged a state trooper with his vehicle, then fled at a high rate of speed before crashing it at the entrance to the turnpike in Franklin Township.
State police at Lehighton said Robert Joseph Burns, 22, of Allentown is facing charges of two felony counts of aggravated assault of a police officer, felony count of fleeing and attempting to elude police, misdemeanor counts of recklessly endangering another person, resisting arrest, driving under the influence, and summary motor vehicle code violations of maximum speed limits, driving a vehicle at an unsafe speed, driving on roadways laned for traffic, careless driving, reckless driving, traffic signals, stop signs and yield signs, display of registration, and restraint systems.
Police said the incident started about 8:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 2, when Trooper Michael R. Sofranko observed Burns driving a 2007 Nissan Versa sedan and failing to stop and yield to oncoming traffic at a stop sign at the intersection of Canal Street and SR209 in Franklin Township. Burns was making a left turn at the time. Sofranko initiated a traffic stop in the parking lot of the Wells Fargo bank branch.
At the stop Sofranko observed Burns to be under the influence of a controlled substance. He also observed in plain view in the Versa heroin, drug paraphernalia, and prescription pills.
Sofranko then asked Burns to exit the vehicle. Burns refused to exit despite being asked three separate times by the trooper. Sofranko then ordered Burns to place his hands on the steering wheel as he attempted to remove Burns from the vehicle. As Sofranko attempted to remove Burns, the suspect started his vehicle and grabbed the wrist of Sofranko. He then accelerated the vehicle traveling across the bank parking lot dragging the trooper with him. Sofranko managed to pull away and free himself.
Burns fled at a high rate of speed traveling northbound on 209 in the left lane of travel. Sofranko got into his cruiser and pursued Burns. Sofranko clocked Burns' vehicle as going in excess of 100 miles-per-hour in a 45 zone. He also observed Burns' vehicle traveling in the middle of the road and failure to drive in a single lane.
Burns attempted to exit 209 onto the turnpike at the Mahoning Interchange. Burns failed to negotiate a right curve due to the excess speed he was traveling, and went onto the east berm where the Versa struck about 21 feet of guiderails, causing the vehicle to become airborne. Burns' vehicle then rolled counter-clockwise down an embankment coming to final rest facing southeast about 81 feet from the roadway.
Burns was injured and taken to the Lehigh Valley Hospital, Salisbury Township, for treatment. Troopers said he will be arraigned on the charges upon his release from the hospital.