You know that first lovely spring day after a long, cold winter? The warmth of the sun, the smell of spring in the light breeze, the sounds of birds arriving from their winter vacation? This particular day, in May 1980, was one such day.

Everyone, students included, wanted to be outside enjoying the weather and escaping the everyday doldrums of the previous several months.

Three particular students, however, were headed straight for trouble on this day.

One picked up two friends, a male and a female, and headed back home to get Daddy’s booze. It wasn’t long before they were back in the Chevette and headed for big trouble. With alcohol courage, they started to terrorize the highways in the quiet Somerset County towns around Embden and Solon.

It wasn’t long before they caught the attention of a trooper, who gave chase but lost them. Once the chase was called in, other area troopers took note and worked their way in that direction. I was no exception. I was in Abbott late that morning, 25 miles from Route 201 in Bingham, just north of the fray. Never knowing what direction a chase might turn and not knowing how things might turn out, I headed in that direction.

Then a call came in to Maine State Police Headquarters about a small blue vehicle with three kids in it that had left the roadway, driven across a lawn, and almost run over an elderly gentleman raking his lawn that gorgeous morning.

The gentleman sought refuge on his front porch as the kids spun up his lawn, whooping and hollering as they did so. Obviously, these were the same teens who had just evaded a trooper.

Another trooper, Barry Delong, spotted the suspect vehicle and made the traffic stop in North Embden on Route 201A. While Barry approached the Chevette on foot, the driver pulled ahead a bit, drawing Barry farther away from the cruiser. Then the driver threw the vehicle into reverse and attempted to back over Barry.

The suspects took off at a high rate of speed, once again trying to avoid capture. These kids had upped the ante considerably by nearly running over an innocent gentleman and attempting to injure a trooper. Delong was not going to let them kill someone.

Barry, an excellent driver, pursued them north onto Route 201. Hearing this on the radio, I picked up my speed across Route 16 heading toward Bingham. My goal was to get south of Bingham and set up a roadblock.

There was a slight problem, though. Route 16 that early spring was full of frost heaves and potholes. It was a winding, older secondary road anyway, and the frost had rendered it nearly impassable.

Most of the time my cruiser was airborne; I flew over knolls, bottomed out often and left a trail of sparks. I made it to Bingham in record time, though, as Trooper Delong was still chasing the school-skippers north on Route 201, heading into Bingham.

Delong informed Maine State Police HQ of his progress and the location and the actions of the suspect vehicle. Barry had to make some difficult decisions. The erratic driver would soon be going by a school; Barry was not going to allow that to happen.

As he pulled up alongside the suspect vehicle on a long, straight section of Route 201, he motioned for them to pull over. With windows down, they stretched out their arms, gave him the finger and screamed obscenities. Good old alcohol courage at work.

Traveling side-by-side at 90 mph along Route 201, the kids had one more trick up their proverbial sleeves. The driver rammed the side of the Barry’s cruiser, putting both vehicles on two wheels.

That’s when Barry put an end to the chase; he rammed the suspect vehicle, causing it to go out of control. As Barry pulled ahead, in his rear view mirror he saw a horrifying sight. The suspect vehicle was flipping end over end. The driver was thrown 20 feet out of the vehicle and landed in the roadway. Trooper Delong called for an ambulance and rendered assistance to the injured young man.

I made it to the scene as Barry was turning around in the roadway. I assisted with the injured and with making the necessary arrests. Fortunately, the young man survived the ordeal with an arm injury.

The vehicles didn’t make out so well. The suspect Chevette was totaled and Barry’s cruiser had side damage. His sergeant told him to pull out the fender so it wouldn’t rub against the tire and to go back to work. My cruiser had a sprung frame from all the hard landings traveling over all the roller coaster dips. The ride back to my patrol area was much slower as I enjoyed the beautiful spring day.

Just another day in the life.

Mark Nickerson is a retired Maine State Police Trooper who lives in Unity. The 28-year veteran and award-winning columnist may be reached at menick@uninet.net.