The search continues for a man who ran away from police after the car he was driving early this morning slammed into a fire hydrant at North Chestnut and West Brady streets in Butler.
Moments earlier, troopers had tried to stop the driver for a traffic violation, but he sped away — traveling as fast as 60 mph — before hitting the hydrant.
The suspect eluded city officers and troopers but in his getaway about 2:30 a.m. he apparently dropped his cell phone on Chestnut Street.
“That’s good news for us,” state police Lt. Eric Hermick said of the unexpected piece of evidence that investigators collected at the scene.
Police said they have identified the man but they did not immediately release his name.
Investigators also were busy processing another key piece of evidence — the car — which was police towed away and impounded at the barracks in Butler Township.
“It had blood in it,” Hermick said “so we were able to collect blood evidence.”
The car — a silver Chevrolet Cruze with Utah license plates — possibly was a rental vehicle, authorities said.
The crash and chase occurred outside Cody Christy’s parents house. Christy, 22, of Boyers happened to be visiting there after his late night shift at AK Steel.
“I was watching TV in the living room and around 2:30 (a.m.) I heard a “bang,’” he recounted. “As I was walking outside, I heard a door open and close, and then, running.”
At first, he noticed the damaged silver car up against the hydrant at the far edge of the front yard.
“It hit the fire hydrant and ripped the side off of it,” Christy said.
He then glanced over and saw police.
“There was a police officer right there at the corner as it was happening, and he took off,” Christy said. “About 10 minutes later, (police) swung back around and found a hat and a phone.”
The items presumably belonged to the suspect.
City and state police officers canvassed the neighborhood and beyond but they were unable to find the target of their manhunt.
The attention of police turned to the water leak and resulting icy mess from the damaged fire hydrant.
The water was “just kind of bubbling out and leaking down the road,” Christy said. “It was freezing almost instantly as I was over there looking at it.
The Butler Fire Department was called in to help, and firefighters came up with an improvised plan to address the sudden traffic hazard.
Once they got the car removed and got the water shut off, the fire department was out there with torches melting the ice. Police also notified the Pennsylvania-American Water Co.