The same state trooper who was endangered and bitten by a member of a biker gang during a high-speed chase in July sustained minor injuries in the pursuit of a suspected drunk driver early Friday morning.
Senior Trooper Jon Sawa of the Maryland State Police Bel Air Barrack sustained minor cuts and bruises after his patrol vehicle struck a fence during the chase and a large post smashed through the driver’s side windshield, according to police.
The chase began after Sawa stopped a vehicle driven by John Jacob Nussle V, 22, of Joppa on southbound Route 152 near Stockton Road in the early morning hours Friday. Nussle fled the scene, beginning a three-mile pursuit which changed direction to northbound Route 152. According to state police, at that time, Nussle’s 2005 Chevrolet Cobalt rammed Sawa’s unmarked patrol vehicle at least one time.
As the chase proceeded northbound onto Old Joppa Road, Sawa’s vehicle struck a split-rail wooden fence. State police said investigators were still attempting to determine whether Nussle forced Sawa off the road.
Upon impact, a “large portion” of the wooden fence penetrated the driver’s side windshield. State police said the fencing was deflected from Sawa’s upper torso either by a dashboard-mounted radar unit, or Sawa’s own hand.
Following the crash, Harford County Sheriff’s Office deputies who had been monitoring the pursuit saw Nussle’s vehicle on Atkinson Road in Joppa. A second short pursuit resulted in Nussle’s vehicle crashing on Singer Road east of Winter’s Run Road in Abingdon. Nussle, who was uninjured, was taken into custody.
Just over seven months ago, Sawa was the first trooper to initiate pursuit of two members of an outlaw motorcycle gang. During the chase, which reached speeds of 100 mph, the motorcyclist threw small metal studs in the roadway in an attempt to flatten the trooper’s vehicle’s tires.
Once stopped, according to state police the biker threw his Harley Davidson into Sawa’s patrol vehicle and began an “intense altercation” with Sawa and another trooper, eventually biting Sawa on his right bicep before being subdued.
In connection with Friday’s chase, Nussle faces criminal charges including first degree assault and malicious destruction of property, as well as driving under the influence of alcohol and “a host of other traffic charges, according to state police.
Sawa was treated and released Friday morning from the University of Maryland Shock Trauma Center.
Sawa is a 10-year veteran of the state police, according to Lt. Chuck Moore, commander of the Bel Air Barrack. In the time since the July incident, he was promoted to senior trooper, a new department rank earned by troopers with more than 10 years of service, Moore said.
Sawa’s father, Trooper First Class John Edward Sawa, was killed in March 1987 while on duty. The elder Sawa, 40, and Trooper Larry Small, 21, were exchanging information in the median of I-95 near the Havre de Grace interchange when a tractor-trailer ran off the road and struck both police cruisers, killing both troopers. According to an online memorial page, he had been a five-year veteran of the department and was survived by a wife and two children.
An undated photo of the Sawa family taken at Senior Trooper Jon Sawa’s graduation from Maryland State Police class. Troopers in photo are (L to R) Senior Trooper Jon M. Sawa, Lt. (Ret.) John S. Sawa (Jon’s grandfather), Cpl. (Ret.) Gerald M. Sawa (Jon’s uncle) and TFC (Ret.) Kerry Fritz (Jon’s uncle). (Courtesy Maryland State Police)
John J. Nussle (Courtesy Maryland State Police)