VIDEO

High speed chase ends in Bangor crash, arrest

Posted Oct. 07, 2011, at 8:09 p.m.
Last modified Oct. 07, 2011, at 9:27 p.m.
A car chase ended in a series of crashes at the intersection of Hammond Street and Maine Avenue on Friday evening. The driver crashed into several police vehicles and a pickup truck that was stopped at a red light.
A car chase ended in a series of crashes at the intersection of Hammond Street and Maine Avenue on Friday evening. The driver crashed into several police vehicles and a pickup truck that was stopped at a red light.

BANGOR, Maine — A high-speed chase involving Maine State Police, Bangor police and the Penobscot County Sheriff’s Department ended in the arrest of a woman after the car she was driving was surrounded and finally stopped at a busy intersection Friday evening.

The chase apparently began around 5:30 p.m. on the interstate and ended at the intersection of Maine Avenue and Hammond Street about 45 minutes later.

“We were driving to go get pizza and all of a sudden this car comes flying down the road and there were five cop cars behind her,” said Patricia Kelleher of Bangor, who was a passenger in a pickup truck driven by boyfriend Eric Merritt on Maine Avenue. “I couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t figure out why she wouldn’t pull over.”

The unidentified woman, driving a silver Toyota Camry, tried to outrun police on I-95 before taking an exit off the interstate and driving through the intersection of Odlin Road and Hammond Street, according to witnesses. She turned into the parking lot of the Ramada Inn, where she reportedly damaged several vehicles before driving into a ditch between the parking lot and the street and then driving north on Odlin Road and onto Maine Avenue.

The woman, with several police vehicles in pursuit, allegedly drove north on Maine Avenue a few miles before turning around and coming back.

“I saw her bumper had come off and we were kind of joking about it after we went by her, but just a little bit later, I looked in the rear-view mirror and she’s coming back toward us,” said Merritt, who was driving a Ford F-250 pickup truck. “That’s when I got worried.”

Two state police cruisers started boxing the woman in, with one alongside the driver’s side and one directly behind. An unmarked police Chevy Suburban headed toward her from the opposite direction as she drove toward the intersection, where Merritt, who was headed south on Maine Avenue toward Odlin, was stopped at the light.

“We could have gone because the light turned green, but with all the cop cars’ lights flashing, we didn’t want to take off and pull out in front of them,” said the Brewer native.

The Camry was stopped almost in the middle of the intersection after being surrounded by the two cruisers, the SUV and the pickup, which blocked her car on the passenger’s side.

“They had her boxed in, but one of the cars didn’t come far enough forward and she got through, threaded the needle, and hit me,” Merritt said. “She only hit me doing 20 miles an hour.”

“And she kept driving the car, hitting the gas, and trying to push our vehicle out of the way,” said Kelleher. “Fortunately she couldn’t. I can’t believe she didn’t hit that other woman in the car behind us.”

At least three or four officers had to drag the woman from the Camry as she was still trying to accelerate and drive her car through the makeshift rolling roadblock, witnesses said.

“She fought and resisted every step of the way. It was bizarre,” Kelleher said. “They were trying to get her out and they kept grabbing her and the engine was running and she was still trying to drive. She kept yelling, ‘let me go, let me go!’ And she was fighting them for the keys. I think it took about three cops to pull her out and four or five to put her in the police car.

The Toyota and all four surrounding vehicles were visibly damaged.

No injuries were reported and no ambulance was on scene. Sixteen police vehicles were at the site, along with a two trucks called out to help stop the suspect’s vehicle.

Merritt’s pickup, which had extensive body damage on the driver’s side, was able to be driven.

“Her car is tucked up against my rear tire, but I don’t think the damage is too bad because the tire’s not popped,” Merritt said.

The entire ordeal didn’t diminish Kelleher’s or Merritt’s appetite. As soon as the police gave them the go-ahead, they were back on the way to the pizza place.

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