Speeds reach 70-100 mph, nearly lead to head-on collision

Wisconsin man hit with slew of charges following Belfast high speed chase

Vehicle easily identifiable due to the canoe strapped on top
Posted:  Tuesday, April 10, 2018 - 7:00pm

BELFAST — A Wisconsin man has been charged with a number of crimes after leading Belfast Police on a high-speed chase April 9, according to Chief Michael McFadden.

Luke P. Morzanti, 35, of Gile, Wisconsin, was arrested and charged with operating under the influence, driving to endanger, reckless conduct with a dangerous weapon, eluding an officer, and refusing to submit to arrest or detention.

Morzanti came to police attention after Waldo County Communications Center received a report from a bartender at a local downtown pub about a man who had allegedly left the business with a beer he had just purchased.

The bartender reportedly said she immediately followed the then-unidentified man outside, telling him he wasn’t allowed to leave the bar with alcohol. The bartender told dispatchers that the man got into his vehicle and drove away.

A ‘be on the lookout’ was issued for the man’s vehicle, which police say was easily identifiable. He was driving a small silver sedan with a canoe strapped to the top, and Sgt. Brian Lunt located the car in question while cruising on patrol, McFadden said.

The vehicle was on Route 1, heading north toward Searsport and a traffic stop was initiated just south of Belfast’s Wentworth Center.

Though the driver initially pulled over, allowing Sergeant Lunt and Officer Dan Thompson to make contact, he was reportedly reluctant to cooperate with any requests other than to produce his license.

The man refused police requests to exit the vehicle to perform standard field sobriety tests, instead he put the vehicle in drive and sped off, according to McFadden.

Speeds during the resulting pursuit reached between 70 mph and 100 mph, with Searsport Police notified the vehicle was heading their direction, police said. The Searsport Police had a unit stationed on the side of the road just outside of downtown Searsport with their lights flashing.

During the chase, Morzanti operated his vehicle erratically, crossing the center line multiple times and appearing to turn his headlights out at different points, police said. McFadden said at one point Morzanti swerved into the oncoming lane, narrowly missing a head-on collision with an oncoming driver.

Eventually, the vehicle turned left into a housing development, police said.

Once in the development, police were able to box the vehicle in, though Morzanti still refused to exit his vehicle and had to be forcibly removed.

McFadden said he became much more cooperative once removed from the vehicle and placed in handcuffs.

Morzanti is due to appear in court June 8.

Erica Thoms can be reached at news@penbaypilot.com