Drug suspect flees court, recaptured after fiery crash - FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports

Drug suspect flees court, recaptured after fiery crash

Updated:
Suspect Cyprian Robertson, 37, of Chalmette, is carried away from his burning auto by, at left, St. Bernard Sheriff's Deputy Lt. Raymond Whitfield, Louisiana Probation and Parole Agent Andrew Bodine and Deputy Jonathan Smith (Steve Cannizaro) Suspect Cyprian Robertson, 37, of Chalmette, is carried away from his burning auto by, at left, St. Bernard Sheriff's Deputy Lt. Raymond Whitfield, Louisiana Probation and Parole Agent Andrew Bodine and Deputy Jonathan Smith (Steve Cannizaro)
New Orleans firefighters extinguish the blaze that started after Robertsons' car caught fire. (Steve Cannizaro) New Orleans firefighters extinguish the blaze that started after Robertsons' car caught fire. (Steve Cannizaro)

FOX 8 News received this press release from the St. Bernard Parish Sheriff's Office Tuesday evening:

A twice-convicted drug suspect who said he didn't want to go back to jail fled a Chalmette courtroom Tuesday afternoon but was caught when sheriff's deputies trailed him to the Industrial Canal bridge on St. Claude Avenue in New Orleans where he plowed into a vehicle on the ramp and his car caught fire, Sheriff James Pohlmann said.

Cyprian Robertson, 37, of Chalmette, was injured in the accident that happened just before 4 p.m. and was later taken to University Hospital in New Orleans, the sheriff said.

The accident on the bridge, in which Robertson's auto caught fire, closed the bridge to traffic for at least a half-hour.

Robertson, whom prosecutors said has two past convictions on drug charges, had been out on bond on an arrest in St. Bernard for possession of heroin, possession of cocaine and possession of marijuana.

Out on bond, Robertson was in state District Court Jacques Sanborn's court in Chalmette on Tuesday for adjudication of those charges and had been offered a plea deal that would have landed him in prison for seven years, officials at court said.

While mulling over whether to accept the deal or go to trial, Robertson decided, instead, to go for the door.

He ran from the courtroom, made it to his car and fled toward New Orleans, making out of St. Bernard on St. Claude Avenue.

Officers in Arabi who learned of the incident placed spike strips on St. Bernard Highway to flatten Robertson's tires and slow him down. However, Robertson still reached the Industrial Canal bridge with sheriff's deputies following him, Pohlmann said.

The driver had burned away nearly all of the front tires when he went over the bridge and ended up smashing into the back of another vehicle parked on the bridge ramp waiting for a light at Poland Street in New Orleans, the sheriff said. A coach at Chalmette High was in the vehicle that was struck, suffering minor injuries.

Robertson attempted to run from the vehicle after the accident finally stopped him but he collapsed to the ground. It was later learned Robertson had broken a leg in the smashup on the bridge ramp.

Soon his car caught fire, possibly from his rims sparking and catching gasoline, deputies at the scene speculated.

Sheriff's deputies and Louisiana probation and parole agent Andrew Bodine carried Robertson away from his car as it burned out of control before New Orleans firefighters extinguished the blaze.

Robertson, handcuffed and lying in pain on the street, said he ran because, "I couldn't go back to jail.'

'The incident backed up traffic in the late afternoon because the bridge was closed in both directions for at least 30 minutes.

Both the Sheriff's Office and New Orleans police will book Robertson with numerous traffic charges. In St. Bernard, he will be booked with aggravated flight from officers, reckless operation and other traffic charges, as well as driving with a suspended license.

Judge Sanborn ordered Robertson be held on a large bond when he is returned to St. Bernard Parish Prison.

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