CHELSEA — State police spent several hours Tuesday searching for a man who ran away after crashing his sport utility vehicle on River Road.

State police Lt. Aaron Hayden said the roughly four-hour search ended without police finding the man, whom Hayden estimated to be in his 20s.

“We have a pretty good idea who the suspect is,” Hayden said.

The search began around 11 a.m. when Trooper Mark Ferreira tried to pull over a green SUV on River Road because of a defect. The vehicle went off the road and into some trees when it tried to make a left turn into a driveway, Hayden said.

“A male got out the passenger side and ran toward the river,” he said.

Ferreira lost sight of the fleeing man. Police used a dog to track him for about a 1 1/2 miles, but the track stopped near Skyline Drive.

About two hours after the crash, police received a report of a man matching the subject’s description trying to break into a vehicle at 885 River Road. Police responded and a dog was able to pick up a new track, but it ended again without the man being found, Hayden said.

The U.S. Coast Guard, which happened to have a boat in the area on the Kennebec River, scanned the shoreline for the man. Gardiner police assisted with the search in that city.

Hayden said the active search ended around 3 p.m., but police were continuing to pursue leads. Part of that investigation is finding out why the man ran from police.

“If it is who we believe, it may be he does have some issues with his driver’s license status,” Hayden said.

Craig Crosby — 621-5642[email protected]