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Police: York man led cops on 10-mile high-speed chase, then disappeared in woods


A York City fugitive wanted on felony gun charges managed to elude two police agencies — first during a 10-mile chase on Interstate 83 that reached triple-digit speeds, then on foot by crashing through dense brush — despite a state police helicopter with thermal-imaging technology joining the search, according to police.

But his reprieve was temporary. Southern Regional Police said they've identified him, filed more charges against him and obtained another warrant for his arrest.

Now they're are asking for the public's help to track down Curtis A. Thomas for the Aug. 16 pursuit, which started shortly after 11 p.m. in Stewartstown, charging documents state.

Southern Regional Officer Derek Smith tried to pull over a blue Toyota Corolla near the Tom's gas station at the Shrewsbury exit of I-83 (Exit 4) because a check of the license plate showed the registered owner — a woman whose daughter was friends with Thomas — had 10 active warrants, police said.

The car, driven by Thomas, pulled into Tom's lot and stopped, but took off at a high rate of speed as Smith got out of his cruiser and walked toward the car, according to police.

Smith chased the car north on I-83 and was joined by state police cruisers, according to documents, which allege the pursuit exceeded speeds of 100 mph.

After passing the Leaders Heights exit (Exit 14), Thomas lost control of the car while trying to get around slower-moving traffic, police said. The Corolla fishtailed and crashed into a cement barrier separating the northbound and southbound lanes, then swerved back into the passing lane and eventually skidded to a stop with its driver door against the center barrier, according to police.

Ran across I-83: Thomas climbed out of the passenger-side door, jumped the barrier and ran across the southbound lanes, police said.

"I had my Taser out and was instructing him to stop but did not utilize my Taser for fear of him falling and being run over by southbound traffic," Smith wrote in charging documents.

Smith and several troopers ran after Thomas, who had darted into a wooded area, police said.

"We heard (him) crashing through the thick brush of the woods but lost him in the underbrush," Smith wrote.

Police set up a perimeter around the wooded area involving a number of local police officers, and a state police helicopter equipped with thermal imaging flew in from Allentown to assist, documents state. Springettsbury Township Police's K-9 team also searched, but Thomas couldn't be found, police said.

ID card found: However, police said he left behind a Pennsylvania identification card with his name on it, which allowed police to determine he had felony warrants on weapon charges and for escape, documents state.

The owner of the Toyota and her adult daughter later told investigators that Thomas drove off in the car without permission after he and the daughter got into a heated argument, according to documents.

Thomas, 32, with a listed address on Tremont Avenue, is facing felony charges of fleeing police, flight to avoid apprehension, vehicle theft and receiving stolen property, as well as the misdemeanors of reckless endangerment and unauthorized used of a vehicle, and the summary traffic offenses of driving with a suspended license, reckless driving and careless driving.

Anyone with information about Thomas' whereabouts is asked to call 911 immediately.

— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at levans@yorkdispatch.com.