Wrong-way pursuit on I-95 in Groton ends with no crashes, no injuries

Groton — A town police officer early Friday was faced with a difficult decision when a car the officer was pursuing turned onto an exit ramp and headed north toward Interstate 95 south.

According to Deputy Chief Paul Gately, the officer at 1:24 a.m. had observed a person driving erratically on state Route 12 near Walker Hill Road. When the officer tried to pull the vehicle over, Gately said, the driver refused to stop, instead turning around near Hickory Drive and heading back toward I-95.

Shortly afterward, the driver ignored a traffic signal and turned left onto the Exit 86 ramp that leads vehicles off of I-95 south, Gately said.

“Our officer was aware of the threat to public safety and made the determination to follow the vehicle up the ramp,” Gately said, emphasizing that the operator was driving erratically. “The actions of the violator dictated the reaction of our officer.”

By the time the vehicle reached the top of the ramp, Gately said, it had slowed dramatically, apparently the result of a mechanical issue. Gately estimated the vehicle was traveling about 25 mph.

With state police en route, the officer continued behind the vehicle, which was traveling on the shoulder. Gately said in part because of the officer’s emergency lights, the few cars that were on the highway got out of the way in plenty of time.

According to Gately, the whole pursuit lasted just about a mile. Apparently aware his car was no longer functioning well, the driver crossed the highway, pulled into the dirt turnaround frequently used by emergency personnel and fled on foot toward the Groton Reservoir.

Gately said the man made it to the water’s fence line before giving up and being taken into custody.

Justin P. Rich, 30, of Branford was charged with driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, interfering with an officer, engaging police in pursuit, reckless driving, driving the wrong way on a divided highway, failure to obey a traffic control signal, making an improper turn and failure to drive in the proper lane on a multi-lane highway.

“We want to emphasize that the officer was faced with quick decision making to most effectively safeguard the public,” Gately said. “We’re thankful with the outcome — there were no accidents and no injuries.”

l.boyle@theday.com


Wrong-way pursuit in Groton



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