Man accused of carjacking van, leading police on high-speed interstate chase

Police stopped a minivan that was hijacked and was later stopped on the southbound on-ramp from Hogan Road to Interstate 95 in Bangor Friday.
Gabor Degre | BDN
Police stopped a minivan that was hijacked and was later stopped on the southbound on-ramp from Hogan Road to Interstate 95 in Bangor Friday.
Posted Aug. 24, 2012, at 4:39 p.m.
Last modified Aug. 24, 2012, at 8:51 p.m.
Police cars sorround a minivan that was hijacked and was later stopped on the southbound on ramp from Hogan Road to I-95 in Bangor on Friday, Aug. 24, 2012.
Gabor Degre | BDN
Police cars sorround a minivan that was hijacked and was later stopped on the southbound on ramp from Hogan Road to I-95 in Bangor on Friday, Aug. 24, 2012.

BANGOR, Maine — State and Bangor police arrested a 31-year-old man who allegedly carjacked a van Friday afternoon and led police on a high-speed chase before crashing on an interstate on ramp, according to police.

Brian Swett, who is listed as a transient in Penobscot County Jail records, faces a litany of charges including theft, robbery, unauthorized use of a motor vehicle, operating without a license, criminal speeding and driving to endanger.

Jail officials said Swett would be held without bail leading up to his court appearance on Monday because he is under a probation hold.

Around 3:25 p.m., police received a call reporting that a woman had been forced from her vehicle while parked on the side of the street outside 262 Harlow St., Bangor police Sgt. Bob Bishop said Friday night.

The woman told police that Swett approached her gold Chrysler van and “told her it was a robbery.” She complied, and Swett drove off with the woman’s dog still in the van.

The victim did not know Swett, Bishop said.

Minutes later, Maine State Police Trooper Kyle Ouellette, who was traveling south on I-95, saw a vehicle matching the description of the stolen van driving in the northbound lane.

Ouellette said he turned around to pursue the van and see if he could identify it as the stolen vehicle. The plates matched those of the van that was taken on Harlow Street.

“As I came in close proximity with the van, it started to operate erratically” and swerve from lane to lane, Ouellette said Friday evening.

Ouellette followed the van when it left the interstate at Exit 193 in Orono and Swett turned left and got back onto I-95 heading southbound. At that point, Ouellette said he turned on his lights and sirens and attempted to stop the vehicle but Swett didn’t stop.

The van continued down the interstate at relatively “normal speeds” between 65 and 75 mph, but it swerved onto the rumble strip several times and the driver threw a plastic soda cup out the window at one point, the trooper said.

As the van approached Bangor, Swett accelerated to nearly 100 mph, but soon came upon a roadblock set up by a Bangor police and a state police vehicle past the Hogan Road on ramp to I-95 south, according to Ouellette.

In an attempt to avoid traffic that had backed up as a result of the roadblock, Swett turned into oncoming traffic that was heading down the on ramp.

The van struck a dark blue Audi and state police Detective Brian Strout ran into the van’s rear, disabling the fleeing vehicle and knocking off its bumper, according to Ouellette.

Swett then submitted to arrest about 3:40 p.m.

Swett invoked his right to remain silent and did not explain to officers why he allegedly stole the van, Ouellette said.

Approximately seven police vehicles were involved in the chase, according to Ouellette.

The dog in the van was not harmed during the carjacking or the chase that followed, Bishop said.

Bishop said that Swett is new to Bangor and police have identified him as a transient.

“This is an extremely unusual crime for us,” Bishop said. “I’m just glad he didn’t kill anybody.”

Police cleared the accident scene around 4:15 p.m.

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