A high-speed chase through portions of Orange nd Ulster Counties led to two arrests and a damaged police car early Saturday.
On December 12, at 9:26 a.m. a state trooper from the Ellenville barracks traveling eastbound on State Route 52 in the town of Wawarsing observed a U-Haul pick-up truck pulling a trailer traveling westbound on State Route 52 speeding at 80 miles per hour (MPH). The trooper attempted to stop the vehicle for speeding.
The vehicle turned onto Old Greenfield Road and proceeded to travel west. The vehicle came to a stop and the operator of the vehicle, later identified as Matthew Harshner, age 49 from the town of Shawangunk, stepped out of the vehicle. Upon stepping out of the vehicle, Harshner removed his jacket and shouted profanities at the trooper and said, “come and get me”, he got back into his vehicle and attempted to flee the area traveling west. The trooper continued to follow the vehicle with lights and siren activated. The vehicle stopped after traveling one mile and let out a female passenger, later identified as Deborah Decker, age 49 of Worchester, MA, then proceeded to travel west towards State Route 52.
The pursuing trooper determined that the passenger was not injured and continued to pursue the fleeing vehicle still traveling west on Old Greenfield Road before making a right onto State Route 52 going east. The operator began driving erratically crossing over into the westbound lane and reaching a speed of 84 mph. The fleeing vehicle again came to a stop. The operator then put the vehicle in reverse and backed into the troop car causing front end damage. Harshner then fled the scene traveling east into the town of Ellenville.
Troopers were assisted by the Ulster County Sheriffs who deployed spike strips and disabled the rear trailer’s tires. The vehicle continued east in the village of Ellenville. Harshner proceeded on Route 52 again driving erratically.
A Town of Shawangunk police vehicle attempted to stop the vehicle and was struck by Harshner. The collision caused Harshner to veer off of the roadway and destroy a fence at the Mountain View United Methodist Church as well as striking a parked car in the Post Office parking lot before entering the roadway and traveling towards Weed Road in the town of Shawangunk. As Harshner approached Weed Road, a Town of Shawangunk police officer deployed spike strips causing some of the tires to be torn off of the vehicle. The vehicle continued to travel east into the town of Crawford.
A third spike strip was deployed causing all of the tires to be destroyed. The vehicle eventually came to a stop on Center Street in Pine Bush. Harshner resisted arrest and was eventually taken into custody. No law enforcement officials were injured during this pursuit that lasted approximately 18 miles with a top speed of 84 mph.
Harshner was charged with: Criminal Mischief 2nd degree, felony and the following misdemeanors Reckless Endangerment, Obstruction of Governmental Administration, Resisting Arrest, Fleeing Police Officer in a Motor Vehicle 3rd degree, Aggravated Unlicensed Operator 2nd degree, Criminal Mischief. He was additionally issued 39 tickets for various vehicle and traffic law violations. He was arraigned in the Town of Wawarsing Court and released on his own recognizance.
He has a return date to the Town of Wawarsing Court on March 12, 2021 at 8:30 a.m.
Decker was charged with Unlawful Possession of Marijuana 2nd degree a violation and Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance 7th degree, a misdemeanor.