NORRIDGEWOCK — A police officer on his way to train new recruits lessons in high-speed driving Wednesday morning ended up using his skills a little earlier than expected.

Trooper Wayne Ireland, the pilot supervisor for the Maine State Police Airwing, arrested a Norridgewock man after a high-speed chase on Martin Stream Road that lasted about three minutes and reached speeds of more than 100 mph.

Ireland said the chase, which happened shortly after 8 a.m. started because of a small missing item: an inspection sticker. It led to four criminal charges against Christopher R. Smart, 34, of Norridgewock, who already was wanted on a charge of unpaid fines and fees.

Ireland said he was driving on Main Street toward the Central Maine Airport when he happened to see a blue Chevrolet Blazer without an inspection sticker.

Instead of turning on his lights and pulling the vehicle over, he followed it into the Mill Stream Elementary School parking lot, where Smart was dropping off his child. Ireland said he drove up next to the car and asked Smart where his inspection sticker was.

“He said, ‘Oh, it’s a borrowed vehicle,'” Ireland said. So he asked to see the man’s license, registration and insurance.

When Smart asked if they could talk at nearby Oossoola Country Store, instead of the school parking lot, Ireland obliged him; but when Ireland turned left out of the school driveway, Smart turned right.

“I said, ‘Oh, OK, here we go,'” Ireland said. “I turned around, and he took off running.”

Smart’s vehicle turned down Perkins Street, by the Town Office, and continued past Route 8, where the road becomes Martin Stream Road. Police determined en route that Smart’s license plate was attached illegally, Ireland said.

Though Ireland was catching up to the Blazer as it moved at more than 100 mph, he said, a supervisor called the chase off because the inspection sticker violation was not worth the risk. He also already had Smart’s license plate number and physical description.

“There has to be an initiating reason,” Ireland said. “No inspection? That is not a viable reason to get into a full-blown, long-term, high-speed chase.”

Though Ireland continued in the same direction, he slowed down and watched Smart’s car disappear.

Ireland later learned that he had driven by Smart, who had pulled far into a driveway and eventually headed back the way he came.

Unknown to Smart, however, two troopers were driving directly toward him. When Smart saw them, he pulled into a driveway; the officers detained him until Ireland arrived to make the arrest.

In the end, Ireland said, he focused on the more serious charges of eluding a police officer, criminal speeding, illegally attached plates and operating after suspension. There was also a warrant out for Smart’s arrest for unpaid fines and fees on a prior forgery case.

Though the district attorney’s office might make a different decision, Ireland said, he didn’t charge Smart for not having insurance or an inspection sticker.

Smart remained at Somerset County Jail on Wednesday evening in lieu of $2,370 cash bail.

Erin Rhoda — 612-2368

[email protected]


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