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2 charged in Pittsburgh car chase, crash that ended in drowning

| Friday, Nov. 9, 2012, 12:02 a.m.

Pittsburgh police charged two passengers involved in a chase and crash that ended with the driver drowning in the Allegheny River.

Antoine Leonard and his brother Anthony, both 20 and residents of East Liberty, were passengers in a silver Ford Taurus that David Thomas, 19, of the North Side drove through the Strip District at about 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, court records show.

When police tried to pull them over for running a stop sign, Thomas led officers on a chase through the Strip District into Downtown, clipping another vehicle stopped from an unrelated accident. Thomas drove went the wrong way on Ft. Duquesne Boulevard and crashed into another car, police said.

Police believed the Taurus was carjacked Monday night in Lawrenceville and said Thomas was a suspect.

Police said he fled on foot, jumping and falling from Ft. Duquesne Boulevard to the 10th Street Bypass and the riverwalk along the Allegheny River. He tossed a gun before jumping into the river.

Thomas swam toward the North Shore but turned back. He treaded water for a few seconds within 5 or 6 feet of the riverwalk before disappearing underwater, police said.

Pittsburgh River Rescue recovered his body about an hour later. The Medical Examiner's Office performed an autopsy on Thursday and concluded that Thomas drowned.

Anthony Leonard also ran from the car, but police caught him. Officers took Antoine Leonard from the back seat.

In the trunk of the car, police found a wheelchair belonging to Antoine and a nylon bag with a handgun, ammunition and medical supplies that both siblings later said were Antoine's.

Police charged Antoine Leonard with possessing an unlicensed firearm. He remained jailed under $25,000 bail. Police charged Anthony Leonard by summons with criminal mischief and resisting arrest.

Matthew Santoni is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-5625 or msantoni@tribweb.com.

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