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Berks County DA: Man crushed by bulldozer while fleeing from police died accidentally

BERKS COUNTY — The Berks County District Attorney’s Office has ruled that the man who was crushed to death by a bulldozer while fleeing from police on July 9 in Penn Township died accidentally, it was announced Monday.

District Attorney John T. Adams said the deceased, Gregory Longenecker, died while fleeing from law enforcement who had discovered him and an accomplice growing marijuana in an area near Snyder School Road. While the second suspect was apprehended, Longenecker fled into the bushes in an attempt to elude police.

Members of the Pennsylvania State Police (PSP) and Lower Heidelberg Twp. Police Department were called to the scene to assist in the search for Longenecker. The search included a State Police helicopter and a bulldozer that was being used nearby by the Pennsylvania Game Commission to clear heavy brush.

During the search, the Berks County DA’s Office said, troopers located and called to Longenecker over the helicopter’s loudspeaker, but he did not respond. When they lost sight of him in the brush, troopers in the helicopter relayed his last known location.

A trooper and the Game Commission employee used the bulldozer to travel through the thick brush in a slow methodical indirect path towards the suspect. The brush was too dense to walk through, investigators say.

Longenecker wound up hiding under the bulldozer when it came to a brief stop, Adams determined. Police did not see him crawl under it. When the bulldozer resumed moving, investigators say, Longenecker became caught under the treads and was crushed. The Berks County Coroner’s Office pronounced him dead at the scene.

Pursuant to the Berks County District Attorney’s Office protocol in death investigations involving police officers, Berks County Detectives were assigned as the independent agency to investigate this incident jointly with the Pennsylvania State Police, Adams said in a press release announcing his determination.

On July 10, 2018 an autopsy was held at Reading Hospital and performed by Forensic Pathologist Neil Hoffman.

On August 23, 2018, Dr. Hoffman issued autopsy report. In the report, Doctor Hoffman stated; “The findings are consistent with the decedent placing himself in between the treads of the bulldozer then becoming caught under the treads as the bulldozer made a turn toward the left. The decedent was under the influence of methadone, amphetamine and cannabinoid at the time of his death. The levels of methadone and methamphetamine are in the toxic level. The decedent’s judgement, perception and coordination would have been considerably impaired at the time of his death due to this intoxication.”

The final ruling on Longenecker’s death was issued on August 24.

“It is unfortunate that a life was lost and our condolences go out to the Longenecker family,” Adams said in a press release. “However, I support the actions of the Pennsylvania State Police. Their efforts were reasonable and conducted in a safe manner.”