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FLEEING SUSPECT AMONG 3 FROM OLEAN HELD IN DRUG PROBE

An Olean man being pursued by police after officers witnessed a drug transaction ended up chest-deep in a Springville pond early Thursday, the Erie County Sheriff's Department said.

That man and two others from Olean were charged after an investigation lasting several weeks by the Southern Tier Regional Drug Task Force and the Olean Police Department.

Shortly after midnight, undercover officers from those agencies witnessed a transaction of a half-ounce of cocaine involving the three in a store parking lot at the corner of Routes 219 and 39, Sheriff Patrick M. Gallivan said.

When the three were confronted by officers, the alleged seller took off in his vehicle, dragging a task force detective about 50 feet in the parking lot, according to Gallivan. The detective, not identified, was not seriously injured, Gallivan said.

The fleeing suspect, identified as Tobias C. Price, 22, of North Seventh Street, intentionally smashed into an approaching Sheriff's Department patrol car, Gallivan said. After about a two-mile chase that ended near a gravel pit, Price ran from his vehicle.

Price ended up in a pond off East Main Street, where Deputies Jim Mirusso and Dave Barbaritz arrested him. He was charged with reckless endangerment, criminal possession and sale of a controlled substance, obstructing governmental administration, criminal mischief and resisting arrest, according to authorities.

The two other men -- Troy Bryant, 37, and David C. Babiack, 34, both of West Riverside Drive -- had surrendered immediately in the parking lot. Each was each charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance, authorities said.

All three remained in the custody of the Sheriff's Department on Thursday night.

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