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DA: Police justified in chasing drug suspect with bulldozer

A marijuana suspect who was crushed by a bulldozer that the police looking for him, had probably tried to hide under the machine, while he tried to avoid capture, a prosecutor said Tuesday.

Gregory Longenecker, 51, was on the run Pennsylvania State Police when the bulldozer ran over him in thick brush, said Berks County District Attorney John Adams. The coroner’s office ruled Longenecker’s July 9 death an accident, and Adams determined that the police acted reasonably in their search.

Tests showed Longenecker was high on methadone, methamphetamine and marijuana.

His “judgment, perception and coordination would be significantly reduced at the time of his death as a result of this poisoning,” Dr. Neil Hoffman, a forensic pathologist, wrote in an autopsy report.

Officials with the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws had been destroyed, the police call in a helicopter and commandeering a state Game Commission bulldozer as she kept Longenecker, who’d fled from law enforcement on the game state lands about 10 miles (16 kilometers) from his hometown of Reading.

The pursuit developed after a game commission worker who was clearing brush saw a car in a field and called the local police, who in turn contacted the federal police.

A suspect was arrested by the Bernville police chief, but Longenecker eluded capture.

A state police helicopter spotted him in the underbrush, and the game commission employee, with a soldier on board, used the bulldozer to blaze a trail in pursuit.

The researchers concluded that Longenecker crawled under the bulldozer when it came to a short stop. “This was not by the troopers,” according to a statement released by the prosecutor.

As soon as the bulldozer began to move again, this time at an angle of 45 degrees, Longenecker was caught under the pedals, authorities said. The trooper and the bulldozer driver found Longenecker the body.

“It is unfortunate that a life was lost and our condolences go out to the Longenecker family,” Adams said in a statement. “However, I support the actions of the Pennsylvania State Police. Their efforts were reasonable and performed in a safe manner.”

The police said they found 10 marijuana plants at the scene.

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