The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Local News

May 8, 2013

Chase ends near school

EBENSBURG — An attempt to serve a bench warrant on a Revloc man Wednesday turned into a 10-mile police chase through two townships that ended on Central Cambria School District property, police said.

Robert Prebehalla, 46, led officers from six departments through Blacklick and Cambria townships, Cambria Township police Chief Mark Westrick said.

After crashing his car at a gate on the school campus, Prebehalla finally got out while holding a knife at his own neck. County Sheriff Robert Kolar quickly slapped the blade away.

“Once (Prebehalla) got out of the vehicle ... it all happened quickly,” Westrick said, crediting Kolar’s quick actions. “He was in custody within a matter of seconds.”

Prebehalla received what Westrick described as a minor neck wound from his own switchblade and was taken to a hospital after being treated at the scene. No other injuries were reported.

The incident sent a wave of law enforcement officials to Central Cambria’s campus for the second time in less than three weeks, this time putting the district into emergency “shelter” mode. School officials required all students to remain inside, locked the doors and took other precautions, Westrick said.

Westrick estimated the chase lasted 13 minutes at speeds averaging 55 mph.

Westrick said Ebensburg and Cambria Township police and sheriff’s deputies were trying to serve a warrant on Prebehalla when he took off, heading toward Route 422 and Blacklick Township in a gold Buick. State police, Jackson Township and Nanty Glo police quickly joined in the pursuit, which proceeded onto Scout Dam Road, Gresh Road and Colver Road, where more law enforcement officials were waiting.

Prebehalla’s car struck one side of the gate at the campus’ rear entrance and jumped a sidewalk alongside, Westrick said. The car made it through but damaged a front wheel and stopped a few hundred feet down the access road near the elementary school. That’s when Prebehalla got out.

Westrick said alcohol was found in the car and was likely a factor in the incident.

Prebehalla, who pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor count of criminal mischief last year, was being sought on a bench warrant for failing to follow terms of his sentencing, court records show.

Westrick said he’ll now face a list of charges, including reckless endangerment, fleeing and eluding and multiple traffic violations.


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