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State trooper injured after crashing in high speed Joppa chase

A 13-year Maryland State Police trooper injured in a high speed chase in Harford County last week comes from a long line of state troopers, including his father, who was killed in the line of duty nearly 25 years ago.

Senior Trooper Jon Sawa, who is assigned to the Bel Air Barrack, was injured after he crashed his cruiser during a high speed chase in the Joppa area of Harford County early Friday morning, state police said.

Sawa sustained minor cuts and bruises as a result of the crash and was treated and released Friday morning from the Maryland Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore.

According to a state police news release, during the early morning hours of Friday, Sawa tried to stop a 2005 Chevrolet Cobalt on southbound Route 152 (Mountain Road) near Stockton Road.

The Cobalt fled from the stop location and Sawa chased it for approximately three miles. At some point, according to the news release, the pursuit changed direction from southbound to northbound Route 152. During this phase of the pursuit, police said, it appears the driver of the cobalt rammed the unmarked patrol vehicle operated by Sawa on at least one occasion.

The pursuit continued from northbound Route 152 to northbound Old Joppa Road, where Sawa's patrol vehicle hit a split rail wooden fence.

During the impact, a large portion of the wooden fence penetrated the driver's side windshield of the patrol vehicle. The fence was deflected from Sawa's upper torso by either Sawa's hand or a dash mounted radar unit, according to the release.

Shortly after Sawa's crash, Harford County sheriff's deputies, monitoring the radio transmission of the pursuit, saw the suspect vehicle on Atkinson Road in Joppa. Deputies briefly chased the car before it crashed on Singer Road east of Winters Run Road in Abingdon. The driver was then taken into custody.

The operator of the Chevrolet, identified as John Jacob Nussle V, 22, of Joppa, was arrested at the scene and is facing charges of first-degree assault, second-degree assault of a police officer and three counts of vandalism. He was released Friday on $250,000 bail.

Sawa, the injured trooper, is the son of the late Maryland State Police Trooper John Sawa, who was killed in a horrific accident near Havre de Grace in 1987, Lt. Charles Moore, commander of the Bel Air Barrack confirmed.

Jon Sawa is a "legacy," Moore added, because in addition to his father, his grandfather is a retired lieutenant with the Maryland State Police and both of his uncles are retired troopers. Jon Sawa joined the state police in 1999, Moore said.

Sawa remained out on sick leave Tuesday and unavailable for comment, Moore said.

Sawa's father, Trooper First Class John Sawa, and Trooper Larry Small died March 10, 1987, when their parked patrol vehicle was hit by a drunk trucker as the two and another officer, Sgt. Michael Ey, exchanged information in the median of I-95. The sergeant, who saw the truck coming, yelled at troopers Sawa and Small to move and then backed up his own car to safety.

The driver of the United Van Lines truck was charged with two counts of vehicular homicide and driving while intoxicated.

Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun
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