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Motorcyclist charged with fleeing

NEW PORT RICHEY — A man who crashed his motorcycle into a New Port Richey police cruiser during a chase Saturday night has been arrested on a separate fleeing charge.

Mitchell Lee Christmas, 31, is being held in Pinellas County Jail in lieu of $25,000 bail.

New Port Richey officers obtained a warrant for his arrest on a charge of fleeing to elude. They had been looking for him since last week when he fled other traffic stops, Capt. Jeff Harrington said.

On Saturday night, Harrington said, they spotted him. Christmas was heading north on U.S. 19 just before 10 p.m. When an officer turned on his lights to pull him over, Christmas hit the throttle.

In an interview from his hospital room this week, Christmas admitted he took off instead of pulling over. He called it a daredevil decision.

But he said he's not the motorcyclist police were looking for.

"That wasn't me. They obviously had the wrong person," he told the Times.

At U.S. 19 and Main Street, Christmas said, he decided to slow down and pull over. But when he turned, he said, more officers tried to cut him off. He maneuvered around them on Main Street and then sped up again. At the light at Madison Street, Officer Christopher Mellecker pulled into his path, according to the Florida Highway Patrol, which is investigating the incident.

Christmas hit the hood and went flying off the bike. He landed more than 100 feet away and was taken to a St. Petersburg hospital.

Charges are pending in the crash.

Motorcyclist charged with fleeing 01/22/09 [Last modified: Thursday, January 22, 2009 10:54pm]
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