October 18, 2013

Police say Canadian couple in chase led to border by GPS

13-year-old girl says she and Zachary Wittke, 16, were on their way to visit friends in New Brunswick when chased into northwestern Maine on Tuesday.

STAFF REPORT

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Wearing a hospital gown and neck brace from injuries sustained earlier on Tuesday, suspect Zachary Wittke exits the Franklin County District Court in Farmington following a hearing on charges of eluding police, passing a roadblock and aggravated criminal mischief.

Staff file photo by David Leaming

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The 13-year-old girl involved in a high-speed chase with a 16-year-old boy in Canada and Maine told police a GPS unit led them to the Maine border.

The girl, who remains hospitalized, told investigators the two were traveling to New Brunswick to visit a friend, according to Steve McCausland, Department of Public Safety spokesman. The shortest route to New Brunswick from Quebec is through Maine.

No other information, including the girl's name, was released.

The young couple is accused of leading officers early Tuesday morning on chase, with speeds reaching 100 mph, on Route 27 from the border crossing linking Coburn Gore and St.-Augustin-de-Woburn, Quebec. The car, allegedly stolen, later was found abandoned in Kingfield, about 50 miles from the border.

Border Patrol agents fired shots at the fleeing car after it collided with two Border Patrol vehicles during the chase. Neither of the teens was hit by gunfire and neither fired back at authorities, police said Tuesday.

One of the agents was injured when his cruiser was rammed by the runaway teens, according to Keith Hoops, public affairs officer at the U.S. Border Patrol sector headquarters in Houlton.

He said the agent, whom he would not name, was taken to Franklin Memorial Hospital in Farmington, where he was treated and released.

The teens are also accused of stealing a second vehicle, a Dodge pickup truck, from a home in Kingfield. They were caught after crashing the truck and jumping down a rocky embankment into the Carrabassett River in Kingfield, according to police.

McCausland said the girl has possible internal injuries from the jump. McCausland, who said the girl was in stable condition at Maine Medical Center in Portland, didn't have an update on her condition Friday afternoon. No charges have been filed against her.

The boy, Zachary Wittke, of Eganville, Ontario, is being held without bail on three felony charges related to the incident. An Oct. 30 hearing is scheduled in Farmington District Court.

His mother Valerie Wittke in a telephone interview on Wednesday said he suffered from an unspecified mental illness, but would not comment further on it.

Deputy Attorney General William Stokes said his agency's staff is investigating the incident because of the Border Patrol agents' use of deadly force.

Wittke is on probation and wanted in Ontario on arrest warrants, said assistant Franklin County District Attorney Josh Robbins. He said he didn't know what charges Wittke faces there.

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