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Officer Escapes Injury After Tree Falls On Cruiser Following 100 MPH Police Chase On Taconic

A look at the tree that fell on the Westchester County police cruiser.
A look at the tree that fell on the Westchester County police cruiser. Photo Credit: Westchester County Police

A pair of 47-year-old men were apprehended after a high-speed chase involving a van with stolen license plates on the Taconic State Parkway ended when they crashed into trees, according to Westchester County Police.

One of the trees struck by the van then toppled on to a Westchester County Police patrol car as the officer pulled up to the scene, shattering the windshield with the officer still behind the wheel, according to police. The tree did not enter the vehicle and the officer was not injured.

The two suspects climbed from the van in a further attempt to flee but were taken into custody at the scene, according to police. The driver is facing multiple felony and misdemeanor charges.

It happened Wednesday night, July 3 at about 11 p.m. when the Real Time Crime Center at County Police headquarters alerted patrol officers that a Honda Odyssey with stolen license plates was traveling on the Taconic Parkway in Mount Pleasant, police said.

An officer observed the vehicle traveling northbound at Pines Bridge Road in New Castle and attempted to stop it, but the van fled at speeds up to 100 mph, according to police. The van’s driver also turned off the headlights in an effort to avoid capture, police said.

The van exited at Underhill Avenue in Yorktown at a high rate of speed, lost control near the bottom of the exit ramp and collided with several trees. The vehicle came to a stop in some dense underbrush, police said. As a county police officer pulled up, one of the trees toppled over on to his patrol car. That officer and others took both suspects into custody.

The driver of the vehicle is identified as Francisco Torres, of Brooklyn. He was charged with fleeing an officer in a motor vehicle and aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle, both felonies; and criminal possession of stolen property, reckless endangerment criminal possession of a controlled substance, misdemeanors. The drug charge stems from a small amount of heroin found in the vehicle.

The passenger, Luis Ramos, also of Brooklyn, was charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance and false personation, both misdemeanors. He initially gave officers a false name following his arrest, police said.

Ramos complained of chest pain from injuries suffered in the crash and was taken by the Yorktown Volunteer Ambulance Corps to Westchester Medical Center in Valhalla, where he was admitted. He was released on Thursday, July 4, booked at County Police headquarters and then turned over to the NYPD on an active New York City arrest warrant.

Torres was held overnight at headquarters and was arraigned Thursday in Yorktown Town Court. He was remanded to the County jail in Valhalla without bail.

The Yorktown Heights Volunteer Fire Department also responded to the scene and assisted County officers in removing the fallen tree from atop the patrol car.

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