TOWNSHIP 3 INDIAN PURCHASE, Maine — A police pursuit that began with two men apparently caught hunting illegally on the Golden Road ended Saturday night with a crash in which both were thrown from their vehicle, officials said Monday.
The passenger, whom Maine game wardens and Millinocket firefighters declined to identify, suffered life-threatening chest injuries when the Jeep Cherokee veered off the Golden Road and rolled over at least twice at about 9:30 p.m. The driver suffered minor injuries, officials said.
The injured man was taken by ambulance from Millinocket Regional Hospital to Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor. Both are 37-year-old Millinocket residents, officials said.
The incident began after several Maine game wardens had set up a deer decoy, a mechanical device that resembles a deer, on the Golden Road to snare illegal hunters, Maine Department of Fisheries and Wildlife spokesman Doug Rafferty said. A misdemeanor, hunting at night carries a minimum $1,000 fine and three days in jail, Maine Game Warden Sgt. John MacDonald said.
The wardens saw the vehicle approach. One man got out of it with a weapon, saw the wardens or realized that the deer was fake, and jumped back in the vehicle, but not before the gun fired, blowing a hole in the vehicle floor, Rafferty said.
With game wardens in pursuit, the Jeep sped at dangerously high speeds about two miles and went off the road, MacDonald said.
It was unclear how close the wardens were to the vehicle when it crashed or whether the wardens had ended the pursuit beforehand. MacDonald referred comment on the pursuit to state police, who are investigating the crash.
The incident remains under investigation. Charges are pending, MacDonald said.