Bobtailing truck driver killed after chase, standoff

A driver bobtailing in northeast Pennsylvania took state police on a wild chase late on Monday, June 29, and was killed after a lengthy standoff. The driver, Wade Mesiberger, 48 of Indiana, was being pursued by U.S. Marshals on suspicion of a violation of probation for an earlier homicide conviction, according to the police report on the incident distributed by the Pennsylvania State Police. 

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Video courtesy WYOU News

The report states that State Police stopped the tractor as it came onto Interstate 81 near exit 124.

That exit is located in Frackville, Pennsylvania, roughly 55 miles southwest of Wilkes-Barre on I-81. The driver that police pulled over, according to the report, is not the driver that took the police on a chase to Hazleton, about 22 miles north on I-81. “The truck stopped, the driver exited and the passenger remained in the vehicle,” the report said. When the police identified the passenger as the person they were seeking on the parole violation, he refused to get out of the tractor and then took off.

“Troops from Pennsylvania State Police Frackville and Hazleton became involved in a pursuit that spanned multiple miles and jurisdictions,” the police report said. Home video obtained by local news reports shows a wild scene in which the bobtailing tractor speeds through local streets in Hazleton. But in that city, the report said, the driver drove his truck onto a local street and “became stuck in a grassy area near the city skating rink.”

A perimeter was set up and a three-hour standoff ensued. During that time, the fugitive “refused to surrender and intermittently fired weapons from the vehicle toward State Troopers,” the report said. “The [fugitive] was shot and killed.” The craziness of the chase was captured in video and in the comments of local residents of Hazleton who saw the truck flying through their town. 

Television station WTHR, in a report on its website, quoted local resident Tyler Memis. ”I was on Poplar Street,” Memis was quoted as saying. “I was going south and the semi-truck was coming up towards me, almost hit me like this far away. I could almost touch it. Turned around and started flying, there were state cops, Hazleton cops.”

Another local resident, Wade Ball, said of the chase he witnessed: “We were at a stop sign and he flew by us, like 15 cops behind him.

It was crazy.” 

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