Man charged after chase
An Altoona man faces felony and misdemeanor charges after police said he intentionally caused a high-speed crash in front of Altoona Area Junior High School last month.
About 8:43 a.m. on June 4, James P. Kuhn, 57, of 500 Fifth Ave., allegedly chased the driver of a 2003 Pontiac Montana van at speeds up to 80 mph down Seventh Avenue, ultimately striking the van and forcing it to spin out of control on the 1200 block, Altoona police allege in court documents filed this week.
According to police, Kuhn arrived at his son’s home at 208 Seventh St. and confronted Daniel Goble of Akron, Ohio, who was there with others who were allegedly trying to get into the apartment. Police said Kuhn’s son, Michael Kuhn, had been arrested earlier that morning after a domestic incident involving a woman, and Goble and the others were at the apartment to retrieve her belongings.
When Kuhn arrived at his son’s apartment, police said he got out of his 2001 Chevrolet Blazer with a can of pepper spray in one hand and a “black-handled object” in the other. The black-handled object, police allege, was a knife and said Kuhn later admitted having it in the SUV along with the pepper spray.
According to Kuhn’s arrest papers, Goble retreated to his van, which was parked on Seventh Street, and Kuhn followed. Police said Kuhn struck the back of the van several times with his hands before Goble began to drive away, at which point Kuhn started smacking the rear window and demanding Goble stop.
Kuhn gave chase in his Blazer, police said, and the two vehicles pulled onto Seventh Avenue. Witnesses told police the two vehicles sped down a busy Seventh Avenue at high speeds. At times Kuhn’s Blazer was within 10 feet of Goble’s rear bumper.
At 12th Street, Kuhn ran a red light as he chased the van, which at that point began to cross the white line separating the two lanes of the road, police said.
Police said Kuhn then switched lanes, driving in the left lane and turned his wheel right, striking the van and sending it careening out of control. Police said the van struck the corner of 13th Street and Seventh Avenue, flipped into the air and hit three safety posts guarding the main gas line for the area and “came within a foot of shearing the gas line,” police noted in the affidavit of probable cause.
Two people were thrown from the van, and police pointed out that had it not been for the safety posts, an Altoona Area student who was walking on the district’s athletic field, would have been struck.
After causing the van to crash, Kuhn’s out-of-control Blazer continued along Seventh Avenue, spun 180 degrees and ultimately was stopped by a brick wall at the entrance to the junior high building, police said.
“There was a person standing behind the wall when the Blazer struck it,” Altoona Detective David Dey wrote in Kuhn’s charges. “The wall stopped the Blazer from killing this person.”
When questioned about the wreck, Goble allegedly admitted to driving between 70 and 80 mph along Seventh Avenue, where the speed limit is 30 mph, and that his license was suspended. Altoona police indicated Wednesday that Goble also faces charges in the chase and crash.
Police pointed out that everyone involved in the wreck suffered serious injuries, and several people required “life sustaining medical treatment” after the crash.
A number listed for Kuhn was disconnected, and no attorney was listed in his case as of Wednesday.
Kuhn was arraigned Wednesday morning on a felony aggravated assault by vehicle charge as well as misdemeanor counts of simple assault and recklessly endangering another person, plus several summary violations that include reckless driving, speeding and harassment. Kuhn remains free on an unsecured $20,000 bond and is due to appear at Central Court on Wednesday for a preliminary hearing.