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Valley News Dispatch

Latrobe woman arrested in connection with Vandergrift stolen van, police chase in June

Chuck Biedka
| Friday, Dec. 29, 2017, 7:21 p.m.
Natalia Martinez
Westmoreland County Prison
Natalia Martinez

A Latrobe woman accused of driving a van stolen in Vandergrift and eluding and resisting an Avonmore officer in June was arrested Friday.

Natalia Sophie Martinez, 24, of Main Street was formally charged Friday and sent to the Westmoreland County jail in lieu of $25,000 bond pending a Jan. 9 preliminary hearing.

According to an affidavit, Martinez was driving the 2005 Chrysler Town and Country that was stolen from a Hancock Avenue convenience store about 9:40 p.m. June 22.

The keys had been left in the van.

About an hour after the theft, an Avonmore officer called Vandergrift police to say she was following the van, which the officer reported was being driven recklessly on Route 982 near Saltsburg.

The officer reported that the van pulled over on Bush Road and stopped as instructed.

But the driver, who police now say was Martinez, repeatedly tried to get out of the van when ordered not to do so. On the third try, she ran from the officer but tripped and fell.

The officer told her not to move, but Martinez jumped up and started to run, police said.

The officer shocked Martinez with a Taser, and she fell again, police said.

But she scrambled to her feet and ran into some woods before the officer could handcuff her, police said.

Police unsuccessfully searched for an hour, but she disappeared.

Police said they learned the suspect's identity and issued an arrest warrant for Martinez the next day.

She wasn't found until Friday.

She is charged with aggravated assault, fleeing and eluding, theft, receiving stolen property and driving without a license.

The preliminary hearing is scheduled in front of District Judge Cheryl Peck Yakopec in Allegheny Township.

Chuck Biedka is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-226-4711, or via Twitter @ChuckBiedka.

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