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Last updated: March 17. 2013 2:58AM - 352 Views
By PETER HALL The Morning Call



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A seven-mile police pursuit Thursday morning on the Northeast Extension of the Pennsylvania Turnpike ended with a fiery crash at the Lehigh Valley service station in South Whitehall Township, police said.


State Police at Pocono said a trooper stopped Donovan Curtis, 25, of Philadelphia near mile marker 62 in North Whitehall Township. Curtis, who is wanted on a parole violation, fled at high speed, Trooper Constantine Kartsoumas said.


We lost sight of him for a little bit, Kartsoumas said.


Curtis left the turnpike at the southbound exit to the Lehigh Valley service plaza, where he lost control shortly after 10:30 a.m. The Infiniti sedan shattered a concrete median barrier, flew over a guard rail and down an embankment into a small field south of the service plaza where it caught fire, witnesses said.


Curtis and his passenger Sarah Long, 23, of Hazleton, were injured and were taken by ambulance to Lehigh Valley Hospital-Cedar Crest. Both will face charges, Kartsoumas said.


Truck driver Doug Arnold of Chalfont was leaving the service plaza after getting fuel when he saw the car go airborne over the guard rail. Arnold and another driver jumped out of their trucks and ran to the scene with fire extinguishers.


Arnold said he helped a state trooper remove the passenger from the vehicle as it started to burn.


Adam Belcastro, captain of the Upper Nazareth Township Fire Department, was driving south on the turnpike when he saw the car go over the embankment and stopped to help. Belcastro said he helped move the woman away from the car as the fire intensified and provided first aid.


Minutes after the crash, Curtis sat in the field screaming what happened, what happened, and shouted his passenger's name before a trooper led him to a patrol car. The burning car produced a plume of black smoke and loud pops before firefighters arrived.


South Whitehall firefighters extinguished the fire, which burned for about 20 minutes. The crash blocked the entrance and exit to the southbound side of the service plaza for about an hour.


Arnold said a trooper told him that the pursuit reached speeds of more than 125 mph.


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