A California man was arrested late Saturday after he led police on a chase reaching speeds of 90 mph before taking out a tree and city lamp post on The Concourse downtown and crashing into two vehicles which then hit two others.

Ryan Ragsdale, 33, of Santee, California, was charged with eluding an officer and reckless conduct with a dangerous weapon, referring to the vehicle he was driving, both Class C felonies, according to Waterville Deputy police Chief Bill Bonney.

Ragsdale also was charged with operating under the influence of alcohol, though he refused to take a blood test later at the hospital; driving to endanger, a Class E crime; motor vehicle speeding, 30-plus miles over the speed limit, also Class E; aggravated criminal mischief because of the damage to property, a Class C felony; and unlawful possession of scheduled drugs (morphine), Bonney said Sunday. Police later found a bottle containing 11 unprescribed morphine pills in the vehicle, he said.

It was unclear why Ragsdale evaded police, as he did not talk a lot to officers, according to Bonney.

“He did talk about how much he had to drink and it was a large amount,” he said.

The chase started around 10:30 p.m. Saturday when Waterville police Officer Ryan Dinsmore saw a man he believed to be intoxicated walking around the Big Apple store on Elm Street and enter a dark-colored sport utility vehicle with no registration plates on it, according to Bonney.

Dinsmore stopped the Dodge Journey on The Concourse downtown, as he suspected the driver was intoxicated and because it had no plates, Bonney said.

Dinsmore and Waterville police Sgt. Jason Longley approached the SUV, whose passenger, a woman, had violated bail conditions, so they asked her to step out of the car to talk to her. The officers noticed a pill on the floor of the vehicle and thought it suspicious because it was not in a bottle, Bonney said.

As Longley was talking with the woman, Dinsmore asked the male, who turned out to be Ragsdale, to get out of the vehicle as he noticed a strong odor of intoxicants, according to Bonney. Ragsdale, he said, was uncooperative.

“He ultimately put the vehicle in drive and took off,” Bonney said.

Ragsdale drove up Spring Street to Elm and continued north onto College Avenue at speeds approaching 90 mph, as Fairfield police were notified and in position to place spikes in the road, he said. The pursuit continued into Fairfield and Ragsdale got onto Interstate 95 southbound. Meanwhile Oakland police had been notified of the chase and set up spike mats south of Exit 127, and Winslow police were stationed at Carter Memorial Drive where they were prepared with spike mats, Bonney said.

Ragsdale got off the interstate at that exit, drove onto Kennedy Memorial Drive and then Silver Street and headed for The Concourse downtown where his vehicle bumped against the Roger Majorowicz sculpture, according to Bonney. That caused the vehicle to strike a small tree and take out a light pole and bump two vehicles, which prompted those vehicles to bump two others, Bonney said.

A small fire erupted in the Dodge Journey from a punctured oil pan and Waterville police Officer Scott Dumas extinguished it before Waterville firefighters arrived, according to Bonney.

One of the vehicles struck had to be towed but three others received minor damage and were driven from the scene, he said.

Bonney said Ragsdale, complaining of general pain, was taken to Inland Hospital in Waterville where he was cleared to be taken to Kennebec County jail in Augusta. His bail was set at $2,850 and he is scheduled to appear in unified court in Augusta at 8:30 a.m. Jan. 22.

Bonney said that no one else was hurt in the incident, in which Longley had to weigh the risk of pursuing the vehicle against the risk to the community if Ragsdale was not apprehended. Bonney said Longley did a nice job of setting up a perimeter so the sport utility vehicle was contained in a specific area.

There was not a lot of traffic on College Avenue and other streets late Saturday and it was a wide open space, Bonney said.

“Unfortunately, he crashed in The Concourse but obviously, they’re doing the best they can to get an intoxicated driver off the road,” Bonney said.

At the scene on The Concourse Sunday morning, the tree that had been ripped from its roots was lying several feet away and glass, plastic and other vehicle parts were strewn for at least 200 feet to the lamp post whose glass bulb was broken into many pieces. Bonney said he did not have an estimate on how much the damages will cost, because “the accident report is not complete and we will have to get an estimate from the city on the pole.”

Meanwhile, a witness to the crash Saturday night said it was an extraordinary sight.

Nate Fotter, 23, who works for Kim’s Garage & Towing Service, in Winslow, was sitting in a vehicle on The Concourse eating his supper of Chinese food late Saturday when he saw police stop the sport utility vehicle and ask the passenger, and then the driver, to get out, he said.

“The guy took right off and came out of The Concourse on to Spring Street and came back around,” Fotter recalled at Kim’s Sunday morning. “He must’ve been going 70, 80 miles per hour through The Concourse. He hit the statue and the cars in front of You Know Whose Pub and his vehicle caught fire.”

Fotter, who usually drives a tow truck but was driving a light service vehicle Saturday night, said it was quite a scene. Arbo’s Towing & Repair Service, of Waterville, was called to tow the sport utility vehicle after the crash.

“I’m like, I should have been in the tow truck,” Fotter said.

Amy Calder — 861-9247

[email protected]

Twitter: @AmyCalder17

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