Video shows box truck barreling through Staten Island during wild police chase; driver charged

The driver, 48-year-old Michael Rompa, faces charges including assault and reckless endangerment

Crystal Cranmore Image
Friday, December 29, 2023
VIDEO: Box truck barrels through Staten Island during police chase
Michael Rompa was charged after stealing a WB Mason truck and leading police on a wild chase through the Stapleton section of Staten Island.

STAPLETON, Staten Island (WABC) -- The man who police say was behind the wheel of a stolen box truck during a wild police chase through Staten Island is now facing several charges.

Authorities say 48-year-old Michael Rompa led police on a five-mile chase through residential neighborhoods, injuring seven police officers and damaging dozens of other vehicles along the way.

Eyewitness News tracked down new surveillance video that showed the stolen WB Mason truck barreling through Salton Avenue and Bishop Street and colliding with a tow truck and parked Nissan SUV Thursday night.

That was merely the beginning of the trail of destruction. The owners of the damaged cars woke up Friday morning to find the mess left behind.

Greg Montesanto was one of dozens of car owners left picking up the pieces.

"I've been on the phone all morning with car rental/insurance companies," Montesanto said. "It's just a car, it can be replaceable. People's lives aren't."

Police say Rompa stole the truck from New Jersey.

NYPD spotted him a block away from Montesantos' home where they say Rompa hit a police car and dragged it 40 feet before it detached.

The five-mile police chase ended at Van Duzer and Beach streets.

Parked cars were left looking like a pile of dominoes.

Tamara Lechner's car was stacked on top of another vehicle.

"I definitely have to rely on people right now for transportation," Lechner said.

Investigators say Rompa has an extensive criminal history, including two other car thefts from Thursday night.

In all, Eyewitness News was told he hit at least 25 vehicles, plus seven police cruisers.

"I had just stepped into my apartment five minutes before the crash happened," Lechner said.

Some residents say that it was a miracle no one was seriously injured.

"I wasn't driving. No one was on the sidewalk, just a car," Montesanto said.

Authorities say seven police officers suffered non-life-threatening injuries.

Rompa was hospitalized, and now faces charges including assault, reckless endangerment, fleeing from an officer in a motor vehicle, unauthorized use of a vehicle, grand larceny and leaving the scene of an accident.


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