Phoenixville DUI lands man in prison

A drunken driver who led Phoenixville police on a crash-filled car chase will spend the next several months behind bars at Chester County Prison.

William Shawell Jr., 29, of Pottstown pleaded guilty Tuesday to charges of fleeing or attempting to elude police and driving under the influence for a June incident in which he crashed into at least 10 parked cars and a police patrol cruiser after an officer tried to pull him over.

As part of a plea agreement worked out between Shawellís attorney, Assistant Public Defender Lauren Holt, and Assistant District Attorney Max OíKeefe, Shawell was sentenced to 11 1/2 to 23 months in prison for the fleeing charges and a concurrent 72 hours for DUI. He was taken from the courtroom to begin serving his sentence.

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Acording to an arrest affidavit filed by Officer Elizabeth Glennon of the Phoenixville police department, she had spotted a green sedan with out-of-state plats leaving a parking lot on Prospect Street in the borough about 2:10 a.m. on June 10, driving at a high rate of speed and swerving. As she followed the car, it first struck a telephone pole and then made a turn onto Gay Street without stopping a the intersection.

When Glennon tried to pull the driver over, the car sped up and struck an unoccupied car at the intersection of Gay and Morgan streets. The car backed up and attempted to turn onto Morgan Street going the wrong way, but jumped the curb and hit another car.

As it drove the wrong way on Morgan, the car struck several other parked cars, Glennon said. As it reached the area of Washington Avenue and Main Street, it struck another parked car and then drove on the sidewalk, striking the same car again. The driver backed the car up, hitting Glennonís cruiser, and then tried to drive away, striking three more vehicles.

However, his car became stuck between two of the cars he struck, and Glennon and other officers who had responded to the scene were able to turn off the car and remove the driver, later identified as Shawell, from the front seat.

Glennon said in her complaint that she recognized Shawell from an earlier incident outside a social club on Prospect Street, at which time he appeared intoxicated. He was taken to Phoenixville Hospital where he was treated for injuries he suffered in the crashes. His blood alcohol level was later found to be in excess of .30, more than three times the legal limit.

Glennon reported that several of the cars that Shawell crashed into had to be towed and were seriously damaged.

Bortner, in sentencing Shawell, agreed to allow him to be eligible for work release after serving six months in prison.