Harrisburg man accused of leading police on high-speed vehicle chase on highways around city

HARRISBURG — A 57-year-old Harrisburg man has been charged with several offenses, including fleeing or attempting to elude police, after leading Lower Swatara Township Police on a high-speed chase after attempting to flee from a traffic stop early Wednesday morning, according to a criminal complaint affidavit.

Derek Smith, of the 1600 block of Berryhill Street, is also charged with flight to avoid apprehension, escape, reckless endangerment, accident involving death/injuries while not licensed, DUI, driving under a suspended license, reckless driving, and possession of a controlled substance in the incident, which began around 1:04 a.m. on the 100 block of Richardson Road, according to Lower Swatara Township Police.

The incident began when an officer on patrol attempted to initiate a traffic stop on Smith’s vehicle, which was observed turning into a parking lot on Richardson Road without signaling, according to the complaint. When the officer approached the vehicle, it accelerated, left the parking lot, turned onto South Eisenhower Road, made a U-turn, and accelerated in the opposite direction, police say.

Police pursued the vehicle onto Route 203 and continued onto Interstate 283, and eventually onto Interstate 83 South, where it crashed while trying to leave the interstate on the 17th Street Exit, according to the complaint.

Police say the vehicle reached a maximum speed of 121 mph during the chase, the complaint states.

There, the driver, later identified as Smith, attempted to flee from the vehicle, but was taken into custody by officers arriving on the scene.

Police say Smith’s drivers license was suspended due to a DUI charge.

A passenger in the vehicle told police she struck her head, but refused medical treatment at the scene, according to police.

An officer speaking to the passenger noted there was a clear plastic baggie on the driver’s side dashboard of Smith’s vehicle, according to the complaint. Police later determined the baggie contained suspected crack cocaine.

A small amount of crack cocaine was also located in the vehicle’s center console, police say.

Smith was taken to a hospital to be medically cleared before he was taken into custody, according to police. While there, he allegedly refused to take a blood test, and allegedly asked police how long drugs stay in someone’s system. He allegedly told police he smokes marijuana, but did not have any that day, according to the complaint.

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