Police: Passenger Takes Wheel In Wild Chase From NJ To Orange County

A wild chase that began in New Jersey ended nearly 60 miles later in Orange County after the passenger jumped behind the wheel while the driver was being arrested, struck an ambulance and drove into oncoming traffic, authorities said Tuesday.

Michael Masonius, Karisa Horsch
Michael Masonius, Karisa Horsch Photo Credit: MUGSHOTS: Courtesy NEW MILFORD (NJ) PD

New Milford (NJ) Police Sgt. Justin Pisano tried stopping the 2002 Pontiac Grand Am after the driver ran a stop sign just before 5:30 p.m. Monday, Det. Lt. Kevin Van Saders said.

The driver -- identified as 26-year-old Karisa Horsch of East Brunswick -- "initially pulled over...but took off again shortly after [she] was stopped," he said.

The vehicle continued on, with Horsch ignoring traffic signals, before she finally pulled over, Van Saders said.

While she was being arrested, he said, 25-year-old front-seat passenger Michael Masonius of Warrensburg "jumped into the driver's seat and took off with the vehicle," the lieutenant said.

Around the same time, a resident reported a burglary by suspects who fit the couple's description, he said.

Haworth police heard of the pursuit and picked up the chase, with help from their Oradell colleagues.

Together, they followed the car north on the Garden State Parkway before breaking it off at the New York State line.

New York State Police said they picked up the chase at 6:20 p.m. on Route 17 in Walkill.

The pursuit continued west on 17, then west on Route 21 and, finally, west on Interstate 84 -- where, they said, Masonius "crossed the median on several occasions traveling in the opposite direction of travel, putting multiple operators in danger."

He also hit an ambulance in the rear and side-swiped it going by, they said.

"The pursuit ended when State Police were able to maneuver the driver and vehicle into the center median of the interstate," New York State Police said.

Masonius got out and tried to run but was quicky caught, they said.

They charged him with reckless endangerment, assault, menacing an officer, criminal mischief and fleeing, among several other counts.

A judge ordered Masonius held in the Orange County Jail in lieu of $50,000 cash of a $150,000 bond, pending detention and extradition proceedings.

Charges out of New Milford and Haworth include burglary, theft and eluding.

Horsch, meanwhile, was charged with burglary, theft, eluding and providing false information to an officer.

She also received several traffic summonses and was ordered held in the Bergen County Jail pending a detention hearing.

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