Thursday, January 25, 2007
Suspected illegals flee police
Thursday, 25 January 2007
By AMANDA CHRISTMAN
Twelve suspected illegal immigrants ran from a Kline Township police officer after a routine traffic stop in northern Schuylkill County Wednesday evening. The incident involved a a three-hour search and drew support from several surrounding police departments.
Eleven of the suspected illegal immigrant passengers in the van were still at large as of press time this morning.
Kline Township Officer Mike Bynon said he pulled over a burgundy and gray Dodge Ram 3500 passenger van on Route 309 in Rush Township after its driver allegedly made a traffic violation. He said he pulled the van over in the neighboring community because there was more room on the road in nearby Rush Township.
Bynon approached the van and took the female driver’s information. He said he walked back to his cruiser and contacted Schuylkill County 911 to check the driver’s information through the communication center.
As he was waiting for the information, the side door of the van slid open and 12 people inside ran toward the woods near a carpet store parallel to Route 309, and headed south toward Barnesville.
This happened just before 6 p.m.
Bynon said he was able to grab one of the passengers, a man whose name was not known as of press time.
He was also able to detain the female driver, whose identity was also not known as of press time. Police were investigating whether the driver was in the United States legally.
Officials said they knew the driver worked for a temporary employment agency and that the van was headed to Reading.
She and the male passenger were taken back to the Kline Township police station for questioning.
When asked how he knew the van contained illegal immigrants, Bynon said the driver told him they were in the country illegally.
A state police helicopter from Williamsport circled around the area, searching for the 11 people with a thermal imaging camera. It made numerous flyovers, its bright white light illuminated on the dark woods as light snow fell in brisk 26-degree weather.
Police from several departments drove on area roads in police cruisers, searching wooded areas. They periodically stopped at the store’s parking lot, where a staging area was established.
Rush Township police, McAdoo police, McAdoo Fire Co., Schuylkill County Sheriff’s Department, Hometown Fire Co., its fire police and its tactical support team, along with state police at Frackville, searched the area for hours.
The search was called off at 9:15 p.m.
Anyone with information is asked to contact Kline Township police at 929-2354.