Police charge driver who nearly missed colliding with house
Searsport — A Searsport man who engaged an officer in a brief chase before he rolled his vehicle and nearly missed a home on Mt. Ephraim Road last month is facing charges in connection with the crash.
James Hartford, 31, was charged with exceeding the posted speed limit by 30 mph or more and eluding an officer. The charges stem from the one-car crash that occurred on the lawn of the Steve Morin residence at 142 Mt. Ephraim Road early Saturday morning, Aug. 17.
At the time of the accident, Searsport Police Chief Dick LaHaye said the vehicle came within feet of striking the Morin home.
Hartford suffered a broken neck, a broken leg and injuries to the back of his head, but LaHaye said Monday morning, Sept. 16, Hartford has since been released from the hospital.
The chase began just before 1 a.m., LaHaye said, when Officer Eric Marcel was conducting a radar detail on Mt. Ephraim Road. LaHaye said radar showed Hartford was driving 72 mph in a 45 mph zone when he passed Marcel, and Marcel pulled out to follow Hartford.
As Marcel pulled out, Hartford sped up to 76 mph, and continued to increase his speed as he traveled up Mt. Ephraim Road.
As Hartford passed the intersection of Mt. Ephraim and Old County Roads, LaHaye said Hartford lost control, nearly missing a road sign on the northbound side of the road, as well as a utility pole. From there, Hartford struck a ledge, which LaHaye said sent the vehicle spinning and rolling back across the road.
Hartford continued onto the driveway of the Morin residence, clipping off a utility pole and knocking out power in the area for several hours.
LaHaye said the accident happened so fast, Marcel initially passed the scene, but quickly returned to it when he saw Hartford's vehicle had left the road.
"The wires from the pole actually hit the cruiser," said LaHaye, who said the cruiser had black markings on the hood, roof, windshield and light bar. Marcel was not injured.
Searsport fire and ambulance crews responded to the scene, as did a Belfast medic. Because the car came to rest on its side, LaHaye said fire and medical personnel had to secure the vehicle in place before they could extricate Hartford from the vehicle.
Hartford was not conscious when Marcel initially arrived on scene, but he was able to talk to ambulance attendants emergency crews pulled him from the vehicle. Hartford was transported to Waldo County General Hospital via ambulance, and was later transported by LifeFlight helicopter to Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor.
The Pontiac was totaled in the crash.