S. WHITEHALL TWP., Pa. – Authorities say DNA collected from a stolen car abandoned after a high-speed chase more than two years ago in Lehigh County led them to a suspect.
Derrick L. Armstrong, of Philadelphia, faces more than a dozen charges, including reckless endangerment and assault in connection to a 2016 Christmas Eve chase that led police from Interstate 78 to Hamilton Boulevard in South Whitehall Township. District Judge Jacob Hammond arraigned the 23-year-old Monday morning, setting bail at $25,000.
On the night of the chase, two Pennsylvania State Police barracks received reports shortly before 10 p.m. about a possible drunk driver on westbound Route 22 nearing the Cedar Crest Boulevard exit. A trooper patrolling on westbound I-78 eventually came upon the Nissan Versa.
The car sped up to about 90 mph and began passing other vehicles on the right shoulder when the trooper tried to conduct a traffic stop, according to court records. A check of the license plate revealed that the car was reported stolen out of Lansdale in Montgomery County.
Police said the car exited I-78 at eastbound Hamilton Boulevard and quickly sped up to about 105 mph, according to records. The driver, later identified as Armstrong, slowed to about 45 mph as he tried to run a red light at South Cedar Crest Boulevard but collided with a car in the intersection. The driver and passenger of the second car suffered minor injuries.
The trooper tried to use his vehicle to keep the driver’s side door of the now-wrecked Nissan closed, but Armstrong managed to jump out and make a run for it.
The trooper gave chase, ordering Armstrong to stop. He tried unsuccessfully to use his Taser on the fleeing suspect but lost Armstrong as he jumped a concrete retaining wall and escaped into a tangle of vines and high grass.
Police said Armstrong eluded capture that night as did his passenger in the stolen car.
A search of the damaged car turned up joints and marijuana, police said. Investigators also collected four DNA swabs from inside the vehicle.
In October 2017, a DNA sample taken from the steering wheel came back as a match to Armstrong, according to police.
He now faces felony counts of receiving stolen property and accident involving injury. Armstrong also faces misdemeanor counts of simple assault, reckless endangerment, resisting arrest, fleeing and eluding, unauthorized use of a motor vehicle, accident involving damage and five summary traffic offenses.
He failed to post bail and was sent to Lehigh County Jail to await a preliminary hearing scheduled for April 8.