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An Old Saybrook man who last June stole a pickup truck, engaged police in pursuit and then crashed the vehicle into a utility truck, sending the second truck into a small pond with the driver trapped inside and submerged in water, was sentenced Wednesday in Norwich Superior Court to two years in prison.
Paul Deckelman, 32, pleaded guilty to second-degree larceny, second-degree assault and engaging police in pursuit. He was sentenced to eight years in prison, suspended after two years served and three years probation.
State police said in an incident report that an Old Lyme police officer spotted Deckelman driving erratically on Interstate 95 North shortly after the truck he was driving was reported stolen in Old Saybrook.
Deckelman fled the officer and exited the highway into East Lyme, where he continued north on Route 161 and then engaged state troopers from the Montville barracks in pursuit.
Police said Deckelman continued on Route 161, ran a red light at the intersection with Route 85 and struck an Osterman Propane utility truck driven by Jeffrey Weed of Norwich.
The crash sent the utility truck rolling off the road, police said. The truck came to a rest on its roof in the pond, trapping Weed inside, submerged in water. Troopers and East Lyme police officers along with a good Samaritan held Weed’s head above the water while they pulled him out to safety.
Weed was flown by Life Star helicopter to Hartford Hospital. He sustained a lacerated spleen, broken ribs and numerous infections as a result of being in the water, the report said.
Deckelman was taken into custody following a brief struggle with troopers.
While on probation, Deckelman must pay restitution — the amount will be determined by the Office of Adult Probation — seek substance abuse treatment and not drive until his license is restored.
— Izaskun E. Larrañeta