BELFAST, Maine — A dramatic high-speed chase through a normally quiet Belfast neighborhood ended in a family’s living room early Sunday morning. Just 20 minutes earlier, a father and his visiting son were having a drink in that same room.
Had they not decided to call it a night when they did, someone might have been killed, according to Belfast police Sgt. John Gibbs.
The chase started around 1 a.m. Sunday, when Officer Lewis Dyer saw the driver of a pickup ignore a downtown stop sign at the intersection of Main and Front streets, Gibbs said. The truck was moving quickly, and Dyer turned on his sirens and lights to pursue.
The truck’s driver, Leonid Richter, 22, of Belfast, continued down Front Street, blowing through another stop sign at the Miller Street intersection. The truck cut through a parking lot and across Commercial Street to reach Bayview Street.
Gibbs couldn’t say how fast the truck was traveling, but that “it was so fast that [Dyer] didn’t feel safe trying to keep up with him” going down these narrow neighborhood roads. Dyer was able to keep the truck in sight in the distance as he pursued it down Bayview Street.
Bayview ends about half a mile down the road at a stop sign and T intersection, where it links up with Condon Street. At the opposite end of the intersection is the yellow, two-story home at 27 Condon St.
Upstairs, the homeowner heard the truck roaring down Bayview, and watched through a window as the vehicle tore across his lawn and smashed into the room below him, according to Gibbs.
Dyer saw the crash in the distance and pulled up behind the truck, half of which was buried in the living room.
After the crash, Richter stepped out of the passenger’s side door with his hands up, telling Dyer that he wasn’t the one driving the truck, according to Gibbs. No one else was in the vehicle.
Gibbs said six family members were at home when the crash happened. None were injured. Gibbs said it’s likely the crash could have been fatal or caused serious injuries had the family decided to stay up to spend more time together that night.
“They were all very lucky,” Gibbs said.
Richter was taken to Waldo County General Hospital and treated for minor injuries.
He faces a long list of charges, including operating under the influence, driving with a suspended license, eluding a police officer, reckless conduct with a dangerous weapon, driving to endanger, aggravated criminal mischief and criminal speeding. Richter’s license suspension stems from a previous OUI charge, Gibbs said.
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