June 19, 2018
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Camden woman arrested after driving more than 100 mph in chase, say police

By Stephen Betts, BDN Staff

ROCKLAND, Maine — A 26-year-old Camden woman is being held at the Knox County jail after police said she led them on a chase in which speeds exceeded 100 mph.

A passenger in her car jumped from the moving vehicle during the early part of the chase, when the driver slowed down, police reported. The passenger was slightly injured and also arrested later.

Jessica M. Hooper, of Camden was arrested Friday morning and charged with eluding an officer, reckless conduct, driving to endanger, criminal speed and aggravated operating after revocation.

According to an affidavit filed by Thomaston Police Officer Michael Blais, he spotted Hooper and Joel Gehrmann, 25, of Waldoboro while Blais was at the Lil Mart convenience store on Route 1 in Thomaston. The officer became suspicious because the pair parked far away in the parking lot and then walked to the store shortly after 1 a.m. Friday.

Blais said he checked the vehicle’s plates and found out that Hooper had a revoked license. He said he then parked at the nearby Lowe’s building supply store and watched her drive away. When the officer turned on the blue lights of his cruiser, the car sped up and drove toward Rockland, according to the affidavit.

Gehrmann, who was the passenger, jumped out of the vehicle when it was slowing down and he was able to reach over and shift it to neutral when it was in Rockland near South Main Street, the affidavit stated. Gehrmann later was charged with violating a condition of release because he had been drinking, the police report said.

Hooper then tried to drive around Blais’ cruiser and struck it, causing some damage.

The officer continued to pursue the vehicle, which reached speeds of 106 miles per hour on Route 73, according to the report. The officer backed off and slowed down and soon received a report from the Maine State Police that the vehicle had crashed on Route 73 in South Thomaston by one of the intersections with Waterman’s Beach Road.

Hooper made an initial appearance Monday afternoon in Rockland District Court on the charges. Judge John David Kennedy set bail at $5,000 cash. Assistant District Attorney Christopher Fernald had asked for that amount in bail, citing an extensive criminal and motor vehicle record and the danger Hooper posed to the public from the chase.

Defense attorney William Pagnano asked for unsecured bail, saying Hooper is from the area, has two small children and has a fairly steady work history.

Hooper’s arm was in a sling at the Monday hearing.

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