Grandmom, child struck and injured by speeding dirt bike being pursued by police

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A high-speed dirt bike ride from Philadelphia into Upper Darby ended disastrously Saturday afternoon when the driver struck a woman and her granddaughter in a crosswalk on 69th Street in Upper Darby, according to police.

The dirt bike rider, who had earlier been pursued by Philadelphia Police, then forced a driver out of a Nissan Maxima at knifepoint and fled the scene in that car, police said.  

Upper Darby Police Superintendent Michael Chitwood said the 6-year-old girl was taken to Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, where she was in serious condition as of 4:30 p.m. Saturday. Her grandmother was taken to Penn Presbyterian Hospital, and was listed in guarded condition.  

One person was in custody but it was not clear if that was the driver or someone else.

“The carjacked vehicle was recovered on the 6400 block of Market Street, and it looks like the individual may have run into … Cobbs Creek Park,” Chitwood said. “We have a person in custody at this moment. but we’re still investigating. We don’t know if he’s involved in the carjacking and the tragedy that occurred.”

Upper Darby was crowded with Easter shoppers and people out in advance of a children’s show at the Tower Theater. Traffic was gridlocked when the dirt bike tore through, driving down the yellow center line.

Chitwood said the driver “allegedly had been initially pursued out of Philadelphia, by a Philadelphia police officer.” 

Charles Paris, 37, the manager at Michael’s Used Cars on Church Road in East Lansdowne, said he watched in horror as a young man on a dirt bike sped north between two lanes of stopped traffic, with a Philadelphia Police motorcycle in close pursuit. Paris said other bystanders told him the police motorcycle was so close to the dirt bike, the tires of the two vehicles made contact at one point.

“It’s like something you would see in Grand Theft Auto,” he said. “It was like any second he’s going to run head-on into one of these cars and flip into traffic.” 

Officer Eric Gripp said Philadelphia Police are still investigating the incident.

“I can say that we had a detail in the area that was on the lookout for dirt bikes and ATVs,” he said. They are illegal on city streets.

“Our understanding is that officers assigned to this detail at one point did attempt to pull over the individual involved in the crash and carjacking in Upper Darby. At this time, we do not have any details as far as a time or location of the initial contact.”

Eric Chen, who works at Top’s Beauty Supply on 69th Street, said he heard sirens at about 1:30 p.m. and went outside to see the motorcycle down in the crosswalk.

“There was a lot of police cars and an ambulance came in, and I saw two people lying down from afar. And one actually was taken onto the ambulance,” he said. 

A man who works at Cole’s Fine Jewelry, a few doors down, did not want to give his name but said he also saw the aftermath, including the motorcycle in the street.

“We heard the sirens and walked outside. There’s so many people here for the Tower Theater show that it’s a total zoo.”

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