Man's bail at $1.5 million after police chase
TROY - A Canton man was jailed in lieu of $1.5 million bail after he fled from police and crashed his truck Saturday in Canton, according to Magisterial District Judge Jonathan Wilcox of Troy.
Wilcox said John Edward Gundaker, 44, of West Main Street, Canton, had a preliminary arraignment at 11:30 a.m. Sunday, and was unable to post bail. Gundaker faces a preliminary hearing at 1 p.m. May 7 before Wilcox.
According to court papers, Gundaker is charged with fleeing or attempting to elude officer, a felony of the third degree. In addition, he is charged with resisting arrest, a misdemeanor of the second degree; simple assault - attempt, a misdemeanor of the second degree; and two summary counts of reckless driving. In addition, he is charged with a violation of "driving vehicle at safe speed," a summary offense; and a disorderly conduct offense.
According to an affidavit, Canton police officer Joshua Heckman was contacted by the Bradford County Emergency Operations Center (EOC), and was asked to respond to a domestic disturbance at Gundaker's apartment. The EOC reported that the incident was called in by a man, who was on the phone at the time with the victim in the incident, Desiree Rios, no age or address given, when she was at Gundaker's apartment and a fight broke out between Rios and Gundaker.
The man on the phone was said to have reported hearing Gundaker hitting Rios, and hung up and called 911. Upon arrival, Heckman said he knocked on the door and Gundaker said he was not going to let Heckman in and told him to go away. Heckman tried the doorknob, but couldn't get in and requested back-up. While Heckman was waiting, Gundaker exited the apartment, with Rios, to talk. Gundaker denied striking Rios, but Heckman said he could see bruises on her left temple and cheek, as well as cuts on her hands.
Troy Police Chief Jarvis Burlingame arrived and Heckman informed him about the situation. While speaking with Rios, Heckman asked her if Gundaker had struck her, and she shook her head affirmatively. Heckman then informed Gundaker that he was under arrest for domestic violence, but Gundaker took off running west and eventually around the building and through the mini-park, now known as The Main Street Park.
Heckman began running after him, but Gundaker made it to the parking area behind the building, jumped into a red pickup truck, and sped off down South Center Street. Burlingame got into his vehicle and pursued Gundaker, when he left the parking lot. Heckman activated his lights and sirens on his patrol vehicle, and joined the pursuit. Burlingame lost Gundaker, and Heckman informed Burlingame that he would head toward Main Street to see if he could locate Gundaker. He headed south on Fassett Street, and saw a red pickup truck, traveling north down the center of the street at a very high rate of speed. As the vehicle approached, Heckman was forced to leave the roadway to allow it to pass, so it didn't hit him. As Heckman turned his vehicle around to pursue the truck, he watched it fail to stop for the stop sign and enter the intersection, where he said it was struck by an oncoming tractor-trailer. Wilcox clarified that the truck was struck by not a tractor-trailer, but a water truck.
Then, Heckman entered Main Street and parked his vehicle in front of the red truck, which was now off the roadway and in a yard, having struck a tree. Heckman looked into the truck, but saw the driver was gone. At that time, multiple pedestrians were pointing across the roadway. Heckman saw Gundaker fleeing into a yard toward West Union Street and he began chasing Gundaker on foot. As he arrived in the backyard of a residence on West Union Street, he saw Pennsylvania State Police troopers arrive, exit their vehicle, and point their guns at Gundaker, who lay on the ground. With the troopers, Heckman approached Gundaker and took him into custody and handcuffed him.
Emergency medical services personnel arrived shortly thereafter, and began treating Gundaker for the injuries he sustained in the accident. Heckman said Gundaker remained very hostile, cursing at the EMT's and "even spitting on us at one point."
Eventually, Gundaker was put in the ambulance, where Burlingame watched him while Heckman returned to the apartment to speak to Rios and ask what happened. She said Gundaker struck her, after a verbal fight, in the head and rib cage. She showed Heckman a bruise, just under her rib cage.
Then, Burlingame requested Heckman return to West Union Street. Gundaker was still acting violently and EMS personnel needed a police officer to ride with him. Heckman assisted EMS personnel in transporting Gundaker to Robert Packer Hospital. Gundaker continued to be violent the whole way down, according to Heckman. EMS had to give him medicine to put him to sleep. At the trauma department, Gundaker woke up and tried to fight the doctors, who subdued him and medicated him.
Eric Hrin can be reached at (570) 297-5251; email: firstname.lastname@example.org.