Philadelphia News & Search
An unlicensed dirt bike rider who hit a 6-year-old girl and her aunt on 69th Street in Upper Darby on Saturday and then fled has a lengthy record of criminal charges including attempted murder, Upper Darby Police Superintendent Michael Chitwood said Sunday.
Caliph Douglass, 32, of South Philadelphia, who suffered a collapsed lung and a spinal injury during the chaotic incident, was arraigned Sunday morning in his hospital bed at Crozer-Chester Medical Center, Chitwood said. He faces charges of aggravated assault, robbery, fleeing police, driving under a suspended license, and related offenses. His bail was set at $1 million.
The girl allegedly hit by the dirt bike was listed in critical condition Sunday at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Her 44-year-old aunt, who had been crossing the street with her and initially was reported to be her grandmother, was listed in guarded condition at Penn Presbyterian Medical Center, Chitwood said.
The episode began Saturday afternoon when Philadelphia Police were searching for dirt bikes and ATVs — which are illegal on city streets — when they tried to pull over Douglass, who allegedly fled and led them on a pursuit into Upper Darby.
Around 1:30 p.m on the township’s 69th Street, busy with Easter shoppers and families attending a children’s show at the Tower Theater, Douglass sped down the street along the yellow line dividing the north and south lanes, Chitwood said.
“This woman and her niece who were shopping on 69th Street were walking across the crosswalk when this scumbag smashes into them,” Chitwood said. “He hits the little girl first at full speed, then the aunt. Both fly up in the air, land on the highway, and are knocked unconscious.”
The dirt bike crashed and Douglass ran toward Ludlow Street, pulled a driver from a 2002 Nissan, and stole the vehicle, Chitwood said.
Police found the stolen car a short time later parked on the 6400 block of Market Street next to a wooded area. Douglass had parked the car and fled into a homeless encampment, where he began asking people who lived there if he could use a cellphone to call for someone to pick him up, Chitwood said.
When police located Douglass — who was bleeding from his face and covered in bruises — he was with a homeless man who was trying to help him walk and did not know how Douglass had been injured, Chitwood said.
Douglass was taken into custody and initially brought to Delaware County Memorial Hospital, where he asked a nurse if the little girl he hit had died, Chitwood said.
People in the large crowd at 69th Street took pictures of Douglass — who was wearing a red hoodie when the dirt bike crashed — and many of them have shared their photos with police, Chitwood said.
“It was like a fishbowl,” he said. “We have pictures of him running, pictures of him on the bike, pictures of him in the hoodie. Numerous people took photos.”
Chitwood said the red hoodie was found in the wooded area between where Douglass allegedly parked the stolen car and where he was located.
In 2007, Douglass was charged with attempted murder, aggravated assault, and firearms violations in Philadelphia, but the case was dismissed for lack of prosecution, according to court records. He has been found guilty of numerous drug offenses and of driving under the influence of intoxicants, court records show.
According to his Facebook page, Douglass attended Glen Mills Schools, a juvenile delinquent education facility in Delaware County.
Douglass is also a father, having proudly posted photos with his baby son to his Facebook page last year.
Philadelphia News & Search