A state trooper narrowly escaped serious injury during an early-morning chase Friday along Route 152 in southern Harford County, and a suspect has been charged with driving under the influence of alcohol.
John Jacob Nussle V, 22, of Joppa also faces assault and malicious destruction charges.
Trooper Jon Sawa stopped a 2005 Chevrolet Cobalt at 12:01 a.m. in the southbound lane near Stockton Road for erratic driving. When the driver in the Cobalt fled, the trooper pursued for about three miles in his unmarked patrol car. The cars veered into the northbound lane, and the Cobalt rammed the trooper's vehicle at least once, police said. The chase continued north onto Old Joppa Road until Sawa's car hit a split-rail fence.
A large piece of wood smashed the windshield on the driver's side of the police cruiser, hitting a dash-mounted radar unit, police said. Investigators are trying to determine whether the suspect forced the trooper off the road.
Soon after the crash, Harford County sheriff's deputies who were monitoring the pursuit on radio spotted the Cobalt on Atkinson Road in Joppa. Deputies pursued the vehicle until it crashed at 12:19 a.m. on Singer Road near Winters Run in Abingdon. The driver, who was unhurt, was taken into custody.
Nussle also was charged with numerous traffic offenses.
Sawa was treated for minor injuries at Maryland Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore and was released Friday morning.
Sawa had followed his late father, Trooper John Edward Sawa, into law enforcement. The elder Sawa died in the line of duty 25 years ago, when a tractor-trailer ran off Interstate 95 near Havre de Grace and struck his cruiser.
Maryland State Police Superintendent Col. Marcus L. Brown said he plans to speak to Sawa and will mention the family ties.
"It says a lot about the law enforcement culture," Brown said. "Son after son after daughter still join law enforcement knowing the dangers, knowing what their parents went through and the tragedies they've seen and endured."
Six fathers and sons are now on the state police force. In addition, 35 retired troopers have sons serving in the state police.
Baltimore Sun reporter Peter Hermann contributed to this article.