Man arrested in assault on officer that preceded fatal crash

Woman accused of helping suspect elude capture

WEST READING, Pa. - A Berks County man is behind bars in the alleged assault of a police officer that preceded a fatal crash involving a responding state police trooper's SUV and two other vehicles.

The assault in Robesonia prompted a response by police that resulted in the three-vehicle crash on Route 422 in South Heidelberg Township on Saturday, state police said.

Peter Budwash, who had been wanted for probation and DUI warrants, used a laundry basket to push an officer down the stairs of the home in the 400 block of West Oak Avenue in Robesonia, police said. The officer managed to push Budwash back inside the house before Budwash escaped by jumping through a window.

"It's erratic to jump out of the window like that," said Budwash's landlord, Raymond Bealer. "There's two police here and you're going to jump out of the window and think you're going to get away."

Budwash was arrested Sunday morning while seeking treatment for injuries at Reading Hospital, where he allegedly assaulted a security guard.

Budwash is now facing charges that include assault of a law enforcement officer, aggravated assault, simple assault, burglary, criminal trespass, criminal mischief, and possessing instruments of a crime. He was committed to the Berks County Jail on $1.5 million.

A woman, identified as Angie Walter, was charged with hindering apprehension for her alleged role in helping Budwash avoid arrest.

Budwash waived his preliminary hearing on assault and harassment charges on Monday, Aug. 13. His preliminary hearing on charges related to his alleged assault of a state trooper is scheduled for Aug. 21. 

Walter was held for court.

Formal arraignment for both Budwash and Walter is scheduled for Sept. 12. 

As for the crash, it happened around 10:30 a.m. Saturday as a Pennsylvania State Police trooper was responding to a Western Berks Regional police officer's call for help with Budwash.

On the way to the scene, the trooper's SUV, traveling west on Route 422 in South Heidelberg Township, struck a car that was pulling out from Sportsman Road, police said.

The crash killed the two people in that car -- James Cooling, 62, and Michele Cooling, 65, of Denver, Lancaster County.

The PSP SUV and the Coolings' car struck another vehicle in which two people were injured. They were identified as Paul McCoy, 82, and Mary Lynn McCoy, 72, both from Narvon, Lancaster County.

The trooper, whose name has not been released, was also hurt.

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