Driver under the influence during police chase that ends in Greencastle

Staff Writer
Echo Pilot

A three-state police chase ended Monday morning when a truck driver crashed in the Greencastle area where residents saw traffic reduced to a crawl on Interstate 81. Police said the driver was under the influence and was charged with drug possession.

According to authorities in Maryland, the police chase went through portions of West Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania before ending near Exit 5 at Route 16 in Antrim Township where the tractor-trailer crashed just before 9 a.m. Monday, Dec. 20. Unconfirmed reports said the driver then fled, however a state police report said the driver was tasered and a police K-9 unit deployed in order to apprehend him. Two helicopters were seen in the area of the interstate during the chase.

Pennsylvania State Police identified the driver Monday afternoon as Thomas L. McNeel, 42, of Pototoc, Miss. He was  taken to the state police barracks in Chambersburg following his apprehension.

McNeel was charged with driving under the influence of a controlled substance, possession of methamphetamines, paraphernalia, recklessly endangering and fleeing and eluding. Charges were filed with District Magistrate Duane Cunningham’s office.

Authorities in Washington County, Maryland, reported that the truck with a Mississippi license struck a number of civilian and police vehicles while traveling on the 12-mile stretch of the interstate around Hagerstown Monday morning. Authorities did not report any injuries in Maryland. One of the crashes, however, shredded the truck’s front tires and reduced its speed to about 35 to 40 miles per hours.

The chase continued into Pennsylvania around 9 a.m. where Pennsylvania State Police took up the pursuit at the request of Maryland State Police until McNeel lost control of the vehicle at Exit 5 and ended up in the median strip. Police said they had deployed stop sticks at the state line and then followed until the crash. According to reports, the rig was reported around 8:22 a.m. for reckless driving in a 911 call in Berkeley County, W.Va.

Police said “numerous command to exit the vehicle were ignored” by McNeel, after which he was tasered and the K-9 unit deployed into the vehicle. State police said they were assisted at the scene by the Washington County Sheriff’s Department, Maryland State Police, Greencastle Police Department and Chambersburg Police Department.

Travel on I-81 was back to normal by around 10:30 a.m.