Vt. man arrested after vehicle, foot pursuit in Northfield

Staff Writer
Published: 2/22/2021 10:52:21 AM

NORTHFIELD — A 40-year-old man from Brattleboro, Vt. was arrested late Sunday night after he led police on a two-hour vehicle and foot pursuit that arose from a traffic stop regarding a defective muffler.

Northfield Police Chief Robert Leighton said the name of the suspect has not been released at this time. The man faces charges of defective vehicle equipment, unlicensed operation of a vehicle, speeding, a stop sign violation, reckless operation of a motor vehicle, failure to stop for an officer and an open container violation. Leighton said police do not have reason to bring forth a DUI charge.

According to Leighton, the incident began at around 8:28 p.m. Sunday when an officer stopped the suspect for a defective muffler along Warwick Road. The officer determined the man’s license was suspended in Vermont.

“After the officer explained he would issue him a summons to court and not arrest him, for whatever reason, the operator then fled the scene of the stop,” Leighton said.

The man proceeded down Warwick Road, turning left onto East Street, then right onto Maple Street toward Main Street. At this point, Leighton said the man was driving at roughly 70 mph in a 25 mph zone.

“He approached the intersection and didn’t stop for the stop sign,” Leighton said. “He went through, struck the curbing and went airborne for approximately 30 feet. … He ended up crashing his car in the yard at 26 Main St., and then fled the vehicle.”

According to Leighton, the man ran toward the Connecticut River, and across the meadow nearby while being tracked by police and K-9s.

Officers formed a perimeter along Main Street. Leighton said the Northfield Police Department had called for assistance from police in Bernardston, Erving and Gill, as well as the Montague K-9 unit. State Police cruisers and K-9s, as well as an air wing, also responded, and Leighton put out a reverse 911 call to residents on Main Street and Millers Falls Road to inform them of the fleeing suspect.

“The suspect reached the riverbank and ran across the Connecticut River,” Leighton continued.

Leighton, who was assisting in the pursuit, said he was able to pick up the man’s footprints on the opposite side of the frozen river. He followed the footprints through the snow to the Mitchell gravel pit where, “after a pretty lengthy pursuit in the pit,” Leighton located the suspect, who was trying to hide among shrubs, and took him into custody at approximately 10:40 p.m.

Leighton said the man had lost a shoe in the pursuit and had been running through the snow with just a sock on one foot. The suspect was “certainly not prepared for the 12-degree weather,” Leighton said, noting that the man had no gloves and was “climbing” and “crawling” through the snow and gravel ravines.

Police officers had an ambulance meet them at Mount Hermon Station Road, and the man was transported to Baystate Franklin Medical Center in Greenfield to be treated for hypothermia.

According to Leighton, the man was released from the hospital at 7 a.m. Monday morning, transported to the Northfield Police Station and booked. Leighton said he had posted bail by 9 a.m. Monday, and was scheduled to be arraigned Tuesday in Greenfield District Court Tuesday.

Zack DeLuca can be reached at zdeluca@recorder.com or 413-930-4579.

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