Wednesday, March 12, 2014
Ernest Almeida in 2010.
A Waterville man who led law enforcement officials on a car chase through four communities was still at large Thursday evening.
The man, Ernest Almeida, 31, reached speeds of 90 mph before officers backed off for reasons of public safety.
Almeida faces charges from two agencies, including in Waterville, where the chase began Wednesday.
Waterville police are looking for Almeida to charge him with eluding, operating after suspension and driving to endanger.
The Somerset County Sheriff's Office also plans to press charges against Almeida, according to Somerset's chief deputy, Dale Lancaster. Lancaster said Thursday that his office expects to have an arrest warrant for Almeida this morning.
He declined to say what charges would be filed until a warrant was issued.
Driving a 2002 Jeep Grand Cherokee, Almeida on Wednesday eluded police in Waterville and then sped into Fairfield, Norridgewock and Skowhegan, at times reaching speeds of 90 mph, according to authorities.
He ultimately abandoned the Jeep on Middle Road in Skowhegan and fled into the woods near the Somerset Humane Society's animal shelter. Skowhegan police did not join in the chase but were asked to help and set up a spike mat, according to Deputy Chief Dan Summers, of the Skowhegan police. Summers said he thought Skowhegan police would not charge Almeida.
The Jeep did not hit the mat but became disabled, and that's when Almeida abandoned it, Summers said Thursday. A search of the wooded area failed to turn up Almeida, and it was suspended that afternoon.
The chase started in Waterville when Officer Timothy Hinton saw Almeida driving a Jeep on Main Street, knew he was operating after suspension as a habitual offender and tried to stop him, according to Deputy Chief Charles Rumsey, of the Waterville police.
The Jeep continued onto North Street, where Hinton ended the pursuit at a supervisor's request. Rumsey said traffic conditions and the driver's erratic operation were reasons for ending the chase.
Waterville police on Thursday obtained arrest warrants for Almeida for eluding an officer, a class C felony; operating after suspension as an habitual offender, a class D misdemeanor; and driving to endanger, a class E misdemeanor, Rumsey said.
Almeida led police on another chase that reached 110 mph in 2008. He was convicted later of several offenses, and his sentence included three years in state prison.
Amy Calder — 861-9247