An attempted traffic stop for illegal cellphone use turned into a pursuit that reached speeds of more than 100 mph Wednesday, ending with the arrest of an Oceanside man on theft and drug charges.
State Police said that near the end of that pursuit, which began on the Southern State Parkway in Seaford, Michael Kessler, 26, of 3318 Ocean Harbor Drive, jumped from the moving vehicle, which continued on -- hitting a car. He then fled on foot through a schoolyard, police said, but was soon caught by troopers.
Kessler was charged with criminal possession of stolen property, second-degree reckless endangerment, fleeing a police officer in a motor vehicle, driving while ability impaired by drugs, criminal trespass, unlawful possession of marijuana and several vehicle and traffic law violations. He faces arraignment in First District Court in Hempstead.
Police said a trooper spotted Kessler driving a silver Jeep Cherokee on the eastbound Southern State near Exit 28A, the Seaford-Oyster Bay Expressway, just after noon on Wednesday and attempted to stop him for using a cellphone.
Instead, police said, Kessler sped off, leading the trooper on a pursuit on the southbound expressway that reached speeds in excess of 100 mph before he exited onto westbound Sunrise Highway -- where he headed eastbound in the westbound lanes. Soon, police said, drivers waved over the pursuing trooper, telling him the driver had abandoned the Jeep while "it was still in motion."
The Jeep then struck a parked car near Jackson Avenue, police said. Meanwhile, police said, Kessler fled on foot through the grounds of the St. William the Abbott School.
He was found a short time later and arrested.
Police said an investigation found Kessler had stolen the Jeep after entering School No. 8 in Oceanside and stealing keys to the Jeep.