Police say that at around 6:30 p.m., the juvenile stole a small dump truck that belonged to the Stratford Department of Public Works. The truck had been at Pender’s Field while a high school baseball game was going on.
Officers spotted the truck as the young man drove it through the nearby Home Depot parking lot on Barnum Avenue Cutoff.
According to police, the teen refused to stop for officers and then struck another vehicle while fleeing the area at a high rate of speed into Milford.
The truck first went north on Boston Post Road (Route 1) then turned around and came south. One News 8 viewer said she counted 14 police vehicles in pursuit at one point.
“It was terrifying to see a dump truck careening towards us at that high of a speed,” said Milford resident Carol Mariani. She was waiting at a red light on the Post Road with her 10 year-old son in the car.
She was heading north as the stolen truck came speeding south. To get around traffic stopped at the light, the teen driver crossed both lanes in front of Mariani, squeezing between her car and a utility pole, and smashing the passenger side of her car in the process.
“What do you think in a moment like that? There’s nothing you can do,” Mariani said. “My car was stopped, I couldn’t move. I just was worried about my son in the back seat, and I really didn’t know how it was going to end.”
With this chase happening on a busy road at a busy time of day, some are wondering if police made the right call in continuing the pursuit. According to Captain Frank Eanotti of the Stratford Police Department, the teen had already committed a felony and hit a car, so he was clearly a danger to the public. For another, Eannotti said they are never going to stop the epidemic of teens stealing cars unless they catch them and punish them.
The teen eventually crashed the dump truck on Main Street and Cutspring Road in Stratford.
“All we heard was a bunch of cop cars, coming right here, all their lights stopping,” said Stratford resident Jim Wiltsie, who lives nearby. “Saw the car right there and it was chaos.”
Neighbors say there was a brief foot pursuit before the teen was captured.
He was charged with Reckless Endangerment, Larceny, Interfering With an Officer, Reckless Driving, Evading Responsibility, Operating Without a License, Fail To Bring Vehicle to a Stop and Engaging Police in Pursuit.
The suspect’s identity is not being released because he is a juvenile. Police say that he has been remanded to custody by court order.
Kevin Kiely shot video of the scene near the pit stop cafe earlier Wednesday evening, in the Devon section.
Web Extra: Police chase a dump truck down Route 1 in Milford