One Dead, Building up in Flames After Crash

WILLIAMSPORT — The coroner confirmed one person is dead after a fiery crash in Williamsport Sunday evening.

State police said a Williamsport police cruiser and another vehicle collided in the area of East Third and Railway Streets. The civilian vehicle then hit a utility pole, went into a building and caught fire, which caused the building to go up in flames. The driver, James Robinson, 42, died at the scene.

The police cruiser which crashed into a fence was damaged, Williamsport officials say the officer was taken to the hospital and treated for minor injuries.

The crash damaged utility lines, leaving more than 500 homes and businesses without power.

Shortly before the crash on East Third, Williamsport Police were involved in a chase in another part of the city that resulted in a driver crashing into a tree.

Police have not released that driver’s name or what charges he is facing, but officials say they expect the driver to be arraigned early Monday morning.

Officials say the police cruiser involved in the fatal crash may have been headed to assist at the scene of the other crash when the deadly wreck happened, but could not confirm that with certainty.

State Police have been called in to assist with the investigation in Williamsport.

60 comments

  • 23yearOLDfatherless

    So here is the thing that everyone of you that have commented on this sitution have failed to think about… First off let me tell you my story then ill get to what im trying to say. I lost my dad a year ago in motorcyle accident, he had a helmt on… a 28 year old pull out in front of him and they colided ..long story short my father that was 49 didnt make it. The 28 year that caused that accident has a wife and kids and just got back from Iraq… Moral of the store he has to live what he did every day, i still dont have my dad, he has his family. SO what you learn when someone dies in ur family is that there is plan for each and everyone one of us and that plan will take place when it is going to. I have sense been in the same store as that 28old and yeah it was emonal but I left not saying a word because no matter what i would of said would bring back my dad or take away that day in that guys mind…….We all will go when its time and the people that may have cause it will suffer, and its not up to us to take away another persons freedom because of an accident that is why it is called an accident.. it would have been diffrent if the officer was drinking on the job and driving but he wasnt, he was doing his job and will get his punishment. Keep in mind for the 28 year old he lost his licence for 6mounths and 500 dollar fine. So everyone that is talking sh** on this officer put ur self in his place and you live with the fact that you killed someone doing you job, cause if that was me I wouldnt want to live with those thoughts of how the acciedent happened and the sight of what he saw. Just think about it please cause one day it could happen to u and not when u are thinking it will. And then you will understand both sides cause i can see both side and nether side is a place i would like to be for ether family cause i have been on the one side and wouldnt want to be on the other.

  • Sam

    Please do not blame or make the officer involved in this incident feel any worse that he already feels. To save innocent civilian and police officers from pain and suffering and death in the future we need to ban police chases in all but the most dire of circumstances.

  • helpifucan

    There is a major difference between doing your job, competently and necessarily as opposed to carelessness with no concern for humanity. When was the last time any of you drove like that on Railway and Third Street? Any rational human being knows that is not a good idea, period. We should know this officers name instead of more dirty little secrets. This type of thinking is why Williamsport is in the shape it’s in. So, my question remains, where is the “mystery” criminal who is getting all the blame for this? I, too, saw an officer driving like a fool, no lights and no sirens- in town! Even had the car number but knew a report would fall on deaf ears.

  • helpifucan

    This tragic situation could have been avoided if just a little common sense was used. Police officers are supposed to be “trained” and remain calm not to mention the fact that we, the public, are not getting the truth, yet again. Just ask the officer who still breathes, he knows what happened but he won’t tell, will he? And are you telling me a brand new police car isn’t equipped with fire extinguishers? Why not? He was going too fast, lost control and an innocent man died because of his actions. A badge doesn’t excuse his bad judgment and, at the very least, this officer should be making a pubic apology to this victims family begging for forgiveness. However, that would mean truth and honor, something we don’t see much of these days at City Hall. Investigation, what a joke! High speed chases in such as this should be prohibited. Put that in your ordinance Mayor!

  • Tanyaa

    I am sorry I know high speed chases are risky but yall know damned well if your child was abducted the police could do 100 mph to get there and it still would not be fast enough for you. No one knows where the police were going. Yes. An innocent person was killed. Its very sad. He was a great guy and will be sadly missed. No one knows whats gonna happen to the officer at this point. Thats why the state police are investigating. Im also sure the police officer feels like crap. People are always so quick to judge others but if you judge them itd be wrong. Relax ppl the incident will be resolved but no matter what a life was lost. People lost a loved one. Stop fighting and arguing and pray for the family.

    • Sam

      You make some valid points, however there was no child kidnapped in a criminals car as in your example. What we should learn from this incident is that absent the most extreme of incidents (like a hostage in a criminals car as in your example) the police should not engage in high speed chases. There has been countless examples of innocent people hurt or killed from these high speed chases. I am sure the officer involved as well as the victims family are all sick to their stomachs right now, and it is unfair of us to put or police in these situations. Absent extreme circumstances let the criminal escape and catch him another day, and thank our police for showing restraint

  • raikey36

    Read the article in the Sun Gazette. It clearly states the police cruiser had extensive front end damage and was traveling in the same direction as the victim. It is also unknown if the officer activated the lights or sirens and what emergency he was responding to. Why is this so hard to figure out? Simply ask the officer as he is fine, just shook up?!? Or review dispatch logs to see which event he was responding to! Smoke and mirrors! Because this was no accident just because an officer was behind the wheel. It was at the very least, involuntary manslaughter. All the other high speed chases are reported with the drivers name and why he was being pursued. All these details are now hush hush because an officer was involved? We have enough city residents killing off one another, we don’t need the PD adding to the rising numbers.

  • Taja

    Anyone listening to scanners last night know the criminal was already in custody. So the question is “why was that officer still going 80mph?” There is no where to pull over there… The problem was alrdy under control!!!
    He should face the same charges a normal citizen would face for driving recklessly! There was NO EMERGENCY!! N I pray this news station does some research because a hard working man, a son, a nephew, a brother, a good citizen, was foolishly killed that night!

  • Becca

    The police officer wasn’t in a high speed pursuit. They just said the guy that officers were pursuing hit a tree, and the officer involved in the crash with the victim may or may NOT have been on the way to check out the scene. I didn’t hear anything about him chasing the person who hit the tree. They never said the guy was in custody or not. all you guys are doing is making it up in your minds what you think or want to believe happened. They are still doing an investigation, so how can you decide what happened when no one even has all the facts? The only fact right now is someone lost their life in such an awful way, and it’s very sad.

    • raikey36

      The original scanner call placed by the officer on scene said suspension t was in custody and moments later another cruiser came flying in and crashed. Regardless, he shouldn’t have been going that fast bc it was OBVIOUS he could not stop.

  • c

    There was a 10 year old boy that kidnapped a child walking with his friends and sped away. The kids ran to the first house they could find and called the police.. It’s very possible that’s why there was a pursuit and urgency. The boy goes to school with my daughter. If this is the reason his heart was in the right place! The entire thing is tragic…the cop is traumatized. Please wait for more information before playing judge and jury….I knew of the man that lost his life …it’s heartbreaking!!! I know alot of people that are very good friends with him and only speak highly of him, how he’d do anything for anyone for a good cause esp with children. My love, thoughts and sympathies go out to boomers family….a good guy gone far too soon…I pray for peace for anyone touched by this

  • lovinlife

    It was only a matter of time before something like this happened!! Every day as I sit in my office I watch the cruisers FLY up Hepburn Street sometimes with lights and sirens and most of the times without, appearing to never give a second thought to other motorists on the street or God forbid children and handicap crossing the street.

  • Sam

    In almost every case it is more risky and puts more people at risk when the police chase someone than when they let the person flee. NYPD the largest police department has virtually banned chases, and enough people and police officers have died in police chases that We should do the same.

  • JK

    These high speed pursuits need to be banned, in built up dense population areas all the more so. People who believe pursuits aren’t a problem and are necessary haven’t done their research. Period. That said, I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve witnessed both marked and unmarked police vehicles without lights and sirens driving aggressively, faster than the speed of traffic, making sudden turns, tailgating, etc. Being a “law enforcement official” is not a license to be careless and unprofessional. And I don’t want to hear how it’s a tough job blah blah blah. They knew that when they signed up. Also officers are still human, capable of making misjudgments and errors, although they have convinced themselves otherwise, as one can tell from the attitude most of them have.

  • sadden

    Listen to some of you. I also know the guy that was innocent and lost his life. I dont know whole story but if the second offcer had no reason to still be on the high speed chase then I don’t say thank you for doing your job. You took a innocent life too soon for being carelesd

  • Beckie Sue

    SUNDOWN. I typed a previous comment to you and apparently it did not post. Do your research before you start labeling those corrupt and incompetent residents as Williamsport natives. As most of them high tailed it out of here when the influx from Philly arrived years ago under the ruse of using our all too welcoming rehab centers and halfway houses and ended up running drugs into here instead. I am a Williamsport local. In highschool we used to cruise the circuit and only be concerned that the cops would not nab us for loitering. We were not worried about getting robbed, mugged, shot, or raped. I graduated in 1993 so it was not that long ago and the circuit existed well into the early 2000s. Yes, we had our small time drug use, petty crimes, but rarely any shootings or gang related incidents. Until the influx hit. I am sure you do not know these terms because you are not a native but seem to know everything. Ask around and find a true local. It may be hard because most have left their beloved home town and fled for safer areas. I too lived in a city for a few years in my 20s. Downtown Harrisburg right on second street and verbeke. Right on the cusp of a questionable area. By myself. A 120lb blonde girl from small town PA. I used to walk home from work at 2 a.m. (approx 12 city blocks) and feel safer than I did when I moved back to my hometown. I do not live in downtown Williamsport and avoid it at any cost. It is not safe there and no cool bar, new store, restaurant or cafe will convince me to risk my safety or that of my family to try it out. It is a shame because I am a huge advocate for buying local to help the residents and not huge companies. My children will not attend Penn Tech or Lyco University. It is not safe there. Change needs to come in a hurry before all the true locals give up and let the thugs and Philthadelphians finish destroying it.

    • Sundown

      AS usual, everyone gets confused, no one labeled Williamsport residents as incompetent I was talking about my town, not yours it doesn’t matter whose town or city it is, it does start at home and it doesn’t matter if you or I are doing our job, some people aren’t apparently. So I am not a native, but I recognize patterns and yeah it WAS always like this I know because my husband is a native and he tells me stories like it’s still any better…it’s only prettier…per capita, you have the same stuff going on here, as we did back in nyc..there is not one family including his that didn’t or doesn’t have someone in trouble at one time or another. The more people there are the more it happens, the less people there are the less it happens, the first murder it only took four people on earth to make it happen..this stuff has been going on for centuries, small towns just think they can hide it better.. until their kid shows up on my doorstep looking to me for a ride to somewhere they need/want to go because mommy is a drunk..or because daddy is a drug dealer…same crap just 20 per thousand except 2000 per 100,000. I would still rather raise my son here than back in nyc because the air is cleaner, it’s calmer, the people are great for the most part, jobs are rough but he will find something and so on…but don’t think for one minute that it’s any more moral, because it is not, a lot of hypocrisy tho I will tell you that much.

      • raikey36

        Oh sundown are you still talking? Your arguements fall on deaf ears bc they hold no water. Do some research. Check out all the major drug bust and shootings/murders in the area in just the past five years. 90% of them involve players from Philly . Seems to me that you are the one that is turning a blind eye.

  • John

    Why are the police not calling off these high speed pursuits when they are in residential neighborhoods? There is no need to put innocent lives in danger to pursue at a high rate of speed! Now a life is cut short – shame on those officers for not calling off the pursuit in that part if town!

    • Beckie Sue

      It would be interesting to know exactly why they were pursuing him in the first place? Was it a gun weildy psycho drug dealer or a guy with a warrant that had an expired tag and didn’t want picked up. We won’t ever know I am sure. Because officers are above the law.

      • c

        I was listening on the scanner….I know there was a child abduction at the same time, of a 10 year old, couldn’t tell if it was related but sounded like it. Vehicles were the same…hesitant to bring that up though in case someone runs with it

      • raikey36

        Yeah I was listening to and that call was made and child located within 10 minutes. I’m over the excuses. There was no reasons for him to be going that fastthat he couldn’t stop!

  • Jacob

    Vince S. nailed it right on the head. Had the fugitive been let go and then broke into a house and killed someone, the PD would be scrutinized for not doing anything. My thoughts and prayers go out to the family of the victim. But I also tip my hat to the brave men and women who protect and serve and put their life before others every day.

    • Beckie Sue

      Dude the fugitive was ALREADY caught before Officer High Pursuit crashed into the other man and house. So your argument that if they would have not pursued the criminal and he robbed someone we’d be outraged is beyond stupid. Officer Speedy Gonzales obviously could not have controlled his vehicle even if the suspect was still at large and he was try to get on scene. It is OBVIOUS that the officer needs to be investigated and definitely retrained on high speed pursuits, no matter how nice and good of a cop he is. That man that he killed with his vehicle deserved at least that if he is not going to get justice. It would also be very nice to know exactly what they were chasing that criminal for? Was he a gun wielding drug dealer or a guy with a expired registration that had a warrant and didn’t want picked up and fled? Bet we never find out that information. More smoke and mirrors…

      • mom

        Look I am all for serving and protecting but Williamsport police had a holyerthan art thou complex and they all need to get it threw there tthickness that not every body is a sever threat to society and because of that officer and his feel to be nosey he murdered a man I pray he doesn’t have little ones at home that are going to wake up with out him

  • Deb

    I have a true respect for our officers that protect us in our city and our military. It is sad that there was a loss of a life tonight, but our policemen should not have to be at fault for this. Every second of the day rather their working or trying to enjoy a fun time with their loved ones they are placing their selves and their family in danger. If they are in uniform or street clothes they’re faces never change and the evil criminals that they have had run ins with are always a danger to them. How, I ask you would we feel if we were looked at as the enemy, stared at, cursed at, spit on etc. just for trying to protect people and make our lives safer. I could not imagine nor would I want to imagine our town or country without the BRAVE people that risk their lives daily for us. But yet they hold their heads high and continue to make my life and yours safe. Funny how the same people that are the first to criticize them are the first to demand that they are to be protected. I am so glad to see that our officers are unharmed. I think that everyone needs to see that these officers are good people and that they have feelings and emotions too. Instead of complaining maybe take a bit of that energy and use it to
    make someone feel like their efforts are appreciated.

    • Beckie Sue

      Listen Lady, they chose to take that oath to protect and serve. I did not. It is the job that they CHOSE that the taxpayers pay for that entitles me to expect to be protected and served. Therefore they are held to a higher standard in society, where again, they CHOSE. So when a pointless accident like this happens I have every right to be outraged and expect an internal investigation into the matter. Someone lost a son , brother, cousin, husband, father…tonight. Where is his justice and the family’s peace? I guess he is just another senseless tragedy of crime…only this time it wasn’t another strung out drug dealer that pulled the trigger…it was an unfortunate accident of this brave police officer. So that justifies it…SMDH! The collective stupidity of the media fed sheep tonight is just down right aggravating. I pray none of your family members are a victim of an accident involving an officer. Love and Peace to you…

    • mom

      That right Roberts family doesn’t deserve because a over nosy and over anxiose officer didn’t pay atention to the road n conditions. Caused the accident that took his life but you should have to tell his family that he is not coming home

      • raikey36

        Mom I am very sorry for your loss. I did not know the gentleman that lost his life. I pray for peace and comfort for them. I too am disgusted by the fact that it is not a crime but accident bc an officer was behind the wheel. its sickening how the mass sheep can assign value to a persons life just bc he is an officer of the law. but then again these sheep will allow themselves to be blindy but willingly led to slaughter refuse to question the because they refuse to question the police, media, & govt!

  • Vince S.

    James was a very close friend of mine and I’m crying as I type this, I also know the officer responding to the chase he would help anyone in need. two good men paths crossed because of a criminal running from the law, but if that suspect killed a loved one or snatched your kid you would want the cops to get him any way they could, then I also think that sometimes a pursuit needs to be more careful of us innocent souls, who’s to say, who’s to judge……RIP “James Boomer” Robinson

    • Sundown

      Thank you for clarifying all that happened, I am sorry for your loss, everything you said is true in spades. I am from nyc, and there has been a rise in crime lately that certainly rivals the cities these days, and the police force has been trying to catch up and keep up on very short notice it seems as things are quickly spiraling out of control. Where I worked a few years ago when I first moved here all I ever heard was that crime “followed” from the cities to here…true that drugs come in from the city but they wouldn’t get here if there was no reason for them to get here, we need to stop the madnesses at the local levels. I also suspect that prisoners incarcerated in rurual areas FROM the cities when get let out often stick around…not the best of ideas if they are repeat offenders which about half of them are!

      • Beckie Sue

        Sundown, I typed a comment to you at the top of the page. Please read it and refrain from looking more idiotic than you already do.

    • Beckie Sue

      I am terribly sorry for your loss. The entire point I have been trying to get across was that your friend is being categorized as a senseless victim of crime. But I saw the transcript of the scanner call. The officer clearly stated that the suspect was in custody. The second cop (funny how he is unnamed to protect his identity) did not reduce his speed and lost control of his vehicle and a man, your friend, was the casualty. This is not acceptable to me. The cop, no matter how nice and good he is needs to be investigated. Apparently he needs more training in high speed pursuits because it seems as if even the suspect would not have been in custody he would have lost control of his car and made an already intense situation worse.

      • Sam

        This has been a horrible incident. To prevent further incidents of this kind the police need to eliminate high speed pursuits in all but the most extreme of cases. And my heart goes out to both the innocent man that was killed and also to the innocent officer that was involved in this incident.

  • Kristin

    At the same time, they should not have been traveling at such a high rate of speed especially on that part of third street. doing his job or not an innocent civilian was killed tonight.

  • Sundown

    I correct myself, seems they weren’t chasing anyone…they were enroute to an emergency call..depending on the urgency, I guess more caution could’ve been used, however, this is not something that happens all too often. Sorry for the loss of life and the officer(s) involved that have to cope with the accident.

    • Beckie Sue

      The officer that have to cope with the accident. It was avoidable & unnecessary. How about the family and friends of the guy that got rammed by a cop car shoved into a building and DIED? Where is his justice. I just hope and pray that the family was notified and did not read it on this website as the accident occurred less than two hours ago and his name has already been released. If an internal investigation into tonight’s events is not issued, I will be even more disgusted and amazed at the corrupt and incompetent state of the Williamsport PD.

      • Sundown

        What is MORE concerning is the corrupt and incompetent state of some of the residents of our towns! Then this wouldn’t have happened in the first place! I have witnessed just as much crime on a personal level HERE as I did back in nyc…

      • christine

        beckie, you can almost bet this officer will just get a slap on the hand. he does have to live with knowing what he caused, a death, for the rest of his time… i truely love how the officers name hasnt been released but the victims name was right out there… oh please, let us all know who the cop was….. i wasnt going to be concerned with this until i read where the criminal was caught,,,,, and the cop was still speeding chasing something…. that caused this……. thats when i got a little pissy.

  • Jacob

    WILPO’s finest? I would like to see you be a police officer for a day and have to deal with the BS police officers deal with everyday. Everyone thinks they should come screaming balls to the wall when they are being “harassed” on facebook, yet rant and rave murder when they have a legitimite reason to be running lights and sirens.

    • Sundown

      So true, people need to grow up and get a clue. Too much arrested development disease..
      If someone is not doing something wrong in the first place, why run? They wouldn’t needed to chase if the idiot wasn’t running..

    • Beckie Sue

      I have no desire to be a cop. I didn’t say their job wasn’t hard. But guess what. They signed up and took the oath. I did not. I expect to protect and serve. Not drive recklessly after a suspect was already in custody and kill what appears to be an innocent bystander. I have every right to be OUTRAGED at the overall state the City of Williamsport is in. Our children and future generation are the ones that will have to clean up this overall breakdown of community, government, out of control crime. We can’t seem to solve it so why should we expect the next generation to clean it up??? I am ashamed I have two children that inherit the errors of my generation. I pray to the GOD almighty, that they even make it long enough to have to deal with that issue, as the rate of homicide, suicide, heroin overdose, and crimes born out of hopelessness and despair are killing off our children in overwhelming numbers. Local Government and Law Enforcement love to talk a good game about cracking down on these overwhelming issues in our great city. But it is all talk. The City just imploded tonight, a few short days after the mayor’s very public plan to stop the crime in the city!

      • Sundown

        It starts at home! The breakdown of society and the family unit, lax parenting and government handouts without effective rehabilitation! I have had incident where kids passed thru my home UNDER the age of 18 looking for a couch to crash on because their parents tossed them out..they couch hop..I have a 17 yr girl in my house WITH her baby out in that July heat wave all day, no milk or water or baby food..along with her boyfriend the boy’s supposed father who wasn’t supposed to be around the baby in the first place..this girl was living with some random guy…and that’s just one of about 6 or so kids that was looking for a place to crash..this girl was on drugs, her mom just dismissed her rather than report her and take in HER grandchild or find suitable care for him..

  • Beckie Sue

    The scanner report said that a high speed chase was ensuing through the east end. Suspect was in custody when moments later another one of Wilpo’s finest crashed into live wires and a structure. Sounds like to me the entire situation could have been avoided as the second officer should not have traveling at a speed that he could not stop in time after the chase was over and the suspect apprehended. But guess what, this will not come to light. The suspect will be blamed for starting the chase. The Wilpo PD and Mayor’s Office are just as bad as Fox News. Lets just tell the sheep what we think they need to know, even if we have to leave major parts out or ‘tweak’ the facts a bit. PATHETIC!

  • irw

    I love how you complain how he shouldn’t be chasing anyone but get annoyed if the cops do nothing to stop the rampant crime plaguing Williamsport. I certainly don’t want anyone to lose their life but until all the details are released-give it a break.

    • Kira Von Wolfe

      Sounds like the cop was only doing his job and trying to get to where he needed to be on a timely manner, like all cops should. Doesn’t matter if it’s in the middle of a city or town or not. Shame it happened though and someone had to lose a life. But don’t scrutinize a someone for doing their job.

      • Beckie Sue

        Timely manner???? The suspect was in custody. Situation was under control yet he was going so fast that he could not stop and caused a power outage, fire, down power lines, and SENSELESS LOSS OF LIFE!

      • J B

        Yes I was mistaken this was not the same cop that was chasing the guy up by lyco college. BTW the first cop almost hit me and my girlfriend who were driving on washington blvd at this time. I don’t know where the kidnapped kid story came from but the cop that chased him was lacksadasily coming down Market street when he turned up and FLEW after this guy. The cop that killed the Pedestrian was likely coming to the first cops aide but I can’t be sure about this. Point is under no circumstance should a cop be chasing anyone at high speed (and running red lights) in a residential area! That’s what I saw WITH MY OWN EYES!Cop should be FIRED!!!!

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