BELFAST — A Belfast man has been charged with a number of crimes following a high-speed downtown chase in the early morning hours July 1, according to Belfast Police Chief Michael McFadden.
Leonid Richter, 22, was arrested and charged with operating under the influence, driving with a suspended license, eluding an officer, reckless conduct with a dangerous weapon, driving to endanger, aggravated criminal mischief, and criminal speed as a result of the incident, which occurred around 1 a.m. He was also issued a summons for failure to stop at a stop sign.
Richter was driving his pickup truck on Main Street when patrolling Officer Lew Dyer observed him failing to stop at the intersection with Front Street, where he turned right. Dyer immediately activated his lights, which only made him accelerate away rapidly, “leading [Dyer] on a short but dangerous chase,” McFadden said.
A second stop sign was blown at the intersection between Front Street and Miller Street, after which Richter cut across Commercial Street and onto Bay View Street.
McFadden said that Richter was going so fast that when Bay View Street ended at a T intersection less than a mile later, the driver had no choice but to continue on his path, which led directly into the living room of a family residence on Condon Street.
“The vehicle was going at such a high rate of speed that it was unable to do anything except go straight at the end of the road, and unfortunately directly in the path of the vehicle was a house,” he said, adding that the vehicle hit the home with such force that it broke the foundation before coming to rest halfway inside the home’s living room.
McFadden said Dyer arrived on scene moments later and was able to observe the operator of the vehicle sliding his way across the seat and getting out of the truck via the passenger side door, at which point the operator came out from inside the house.
After exiting via the front door, Richter reportedly shouted that he wasn’t the one driving the vehicle, though he was the only unknown person in the home after the crash.
Richter was arrested and transported to Waldo County General Hospital for medical examination before being medically cleared and subsequently taken to Waldo County Jail.
There were multiple people in the house, though none of them were in the living room at the time of the accident. McFadden said it was “very lucky” that no one was injured as a result of the incident.
The owner of the residence told McFadden at the scene that he was in the room directly above the living room at the time of the incident and had heard the vehicle as it progressed down Bay View Street and watched out the window as the truck slammed into the room below him.
Erica Thoms can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org