Falling tree fails to keep Westchester cops from getting their men


HAWTHORNE – Westchester County Police arrested two Brooklyn men late Wednesday night after they fled from officers in a van with stolen license plates before crashing it into some trees as they exited the Taconic State Parkway in Yorktown.

One of the trees struck by the van then toppled on to a County Police patrol car as the officer pulled up to the scene, shattering the windshield with the officer still behind the wheel. The tree did not enter the police vehicle and the officer was not injured.

The two suspects climbed from the van in a further attempt to flee but were taken into custody at the scene. The driver is facing multiple felony and misdemeanor charges.

The incident began about 11 p.m. when the Real Time Crime Center at County Police headquarters alerted patrol officers that a Honda Odyssey with stolen license plates was traveling on the Taconic State Parkway in Mount Pleasant. An officer observed the vehicle traveling northbound at Pines Bridge Road in New Castle and attempted to stop it, but the van fled at speeds up to 100 mph. The van’s driver also turned off the headlights to avoid capture.

The driver of the vehicle, Francisco Torres, 47, of Brooklyn, was charged with Fleeing an Officer in a Motor Vehicle and Aggravated Unlicensed Operation of a Motor Vehicle felonies, both felonies, and several misdemeanors, including criminal possession of stolen property and criminal possession of a controlled substance because of a small amount of heroin found in the vehicle. Torres was sent to the Westchester County jail without bail.

The passenger, Luis Ramos, 47, also of Brooklyn was charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance and false personation, both misdemeanors. He initially gave officers a false name following his arrest. He was turned over to the NYPD on an active New York City arrest warrant.

The Yorktown Heights Volunteer Fire Department also responded to the scene and assisted County officers in removing the fallen tree from atop the patrol car.

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