CLEAR BROOK — A fugitive accused of leading state police on a high-speed chase in Clarke County on Dec. 23 then abandoning the vehicle and swimming through Opequon Creek into Frederick County, then fleeing from a hospital, was recaptured Monday.
The December vehicle chase, which state police Sgt. Doug Adams said reached speeds of up to 70 mph and lasted for about seven miles, came after a motor vehicle stop at Triple J and Senseny roads. According to a criminal complaint filed in Clarke General District Court, the driver had an open alcohol container. He disobeyed a trooper’s order to pull over to the shoulder and fled.
When suspect Michael Paul Thomas was initially arrested, he was taken to Winchester Medical Center to be treated for possible hypothermia, Adams said. Thomas, who was unguarded at the hospital, left within an hour and was at-large for about 5½ months.
A tip to Winchester/Frederick/Clarke Crime Solvers led to Thomas being apprehended Monday night by state police and police dog Mako in a wooded area in the 200 block of Whiffletree Lane in Frederick County. The apprehension came after a search that lasted at least two hours.
Jim Pearce, Crime Solvers board of directors chairman, said the tipster could receive up to $1,000. Awards are based on the severity of the crimes suspects are charged with and the amount of charges. Pearce, who also is Winchester Circuit Court victim-witness director, said many informants refuse to accept the rewards offered.
Thomas, of the 4400 block of Martinsburg Pike (U.S. 11) in Clear Brook, was charged with eluding police, fleeing from law enforcement, reckless driving, the third or subsequent offense of driving under the influence, driving after a license forfeiture and destruction of property. He has at least three driving under the influence convictions within the last 10 years, according to the complaint.
The 34-year-old Thomas’ criminal record also includes convictions for eluding police, reckless driving, grand larceny and indecent exposure. Thomas is due in court at 9 a.m. on Thursday.
To report a tip to Crime Solvers, call 540-665-8477 (TIPS) or use the P3 Tips mobile app. Callers can remain anonymous.