A Reading man is facing charges after state police say he tried to drive in between lanes which were occupied by other vehicles on I-78 in Lower Saucon Township, striking the other vehicles in the process.
In a news release Friday, Pennsylvania State Police at Belfast said 34-year-old Ricardo Garcia-Picazo was eastbound in a 2011 Honda Odyssey minivan on the evening of Sept. 9 when the accidents happened near mile marker 73.
Police said “both crashes occurred as (Garcia-Picazo) was traveling at a high rate of speed, attempting to split the lanes” between a 2020 Buick Envision that was being driven by 64-year-old man from Milltown, N.J., and a tractor-trailer, and then between a 2017 Hyundai Sonata that was being driven by a 47-year-old man from Stewartsville, N.J., and a different tractor-trailer. They said the two collisions occurred about two miles apart from each other, and that in both cases Garcia-Picazo allegedly struck the vehicles on their right sides, “pushing (them) out of the left lane in order to pass.”
Both drivers attempted to follow Garcia-Picazo, who at one point was “weaving in and out of traffic,” according to the news release.
Police said the Stewartsville man and his two passengers–a 55-year-old woman and a 17-year-old boy–did follow Garcia-Picazo across the state line, where one of the passengers was able to take a photo of his temporary vehicle registration.
Pennsylvania State Police then notified their counterparts in the Garden State and provided them with the tag numbers, troopers said.
After New Jersey state troopers began a search of the area where they believed Garcia-Picazo to be, police said they discovered his vehicle crashed in a rocky drainage ditch at 500 Bloomsbury Road, near Rt. 173, just outside the borough of Bloomsbury in Hunterdon County.
Garcia-Picazo wasn’t with the minivan, police said, but using evidence found at the scene along with the information the witnesses had provided and assistance from the Reading Police Department, they said they were able to locate him at a nearby truck stop.
According to the news release, Garcia-Picazo was being charged with Accidents Involving Damage to Attended Vehicle or Property. It was not clear if he might face other charges.
Note: All individuals accused of or charged with a crime are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. This story was compiled using information from Pennsylvania State Police, Belfast barracks.