Lehigh Valley

Man fleeing police tries to get a ride on I-78

Jason Cieniawa of Hazelton fled LVH wearing jeans and a hospital gown

SALISBURY TWP., Pa. - A wanted man fled from a Lehigh County hospital and tried to flag down vehicles on Interstate 78 Saturday afternoon.

Salisbury Township police were called to Lehigh Valley Hospital at Cedar Crest Boulevard and I-78 in Salisbury Township shortly after 2 p.m. Saturday.

Policed learned 31-year-old Jason Cieniawa of Hazelton, Luzerne County, was wanted by Hazelton police on a bench warrant.

But Cieniawa had signed himself out of the hospital against a physician's orders and fled onto I-78, wearing jeans and a hospital gown.

He initially stood along the eastbound lanes of the highway and tried to flag cars over.

When that didn't work, he ran across the entire highway -- at a time of day when police said fast-moving traffic was extremely heavy.

He went into a wooded area along I-78 near Hamilton Boulevard.

A uniformed Salisbury police officer found Cieniawa in the woods near Catharine Avenue and Dominic Street.

Although ordered to stop, the suspect began to climb a chain link fence to get back to I-78.

The police officer shot him with a stun gun, but it failed to work and the man kept going, fleeing back to the highway.

Both Salisbury and state police were waiting as Cieniawa ran back onto the highway near the intersection with Hamilton Boulevard.

Drivers slammed on their brakes to avoid hitting him and all the police officers who were chasing him.

Cieniawa tried to force his way into a stopped green Chrysler minivan occupied by a family. But the van's doors were locked and the family was able to get away.

A state police officer fired a stun gun at the suspect, but again it failed to stop him.

Five police officers tackled Cieniawa. But he continued to resist arrest even after being knocked down, as traffic tried to drive by.

Cieniawa has been charged with risking a catastrophe, recklessly endangering other people, resisting arrest and obstructing the highway.

Police said he put both police and drivers on the busy interstate in "severe danger" by fleeing and resisting arrest.

He is being held in Lehigh County Prison, with bail set at $50,000.

The police complaint did not reveal why Cieniawa was in the hospital or on what charges he is wanted in Luzerne County.

He resided in the 500 block of Allen Street in Hazelton.

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