NEWRY — The Oxford County Sheriff’s Office will conduct a few more traffic safety roadblocks this year to educate motorists about safe driving habits and differences between Maine, New Hampshire and Canadian motoring laws.
The last one, on June 23, netted police a New Hampshire man who'd been on the run for nine years, sheriff's Capt. Hart Daley said by email recently.
Jeffrey Dewhurst, 36, was caught after a brief search in the wooded area near the Newry public boat launch, where he fled on foot, Daley said.
Dewhurst was charged with being a fugitive from justice and taken to Oxford County Jail in Paris to await extradition.
He was wanted on a New Hampshire warrant issued March 12, 2003, on a charge of failure to appear/habitual offender driving while intoxicated (second offense), Daley said. The extradition was for all New England states.
He said Dewhurst was a passenger in a vehicle driven by his girlfriend, “who turned the vehicle around just prior to the roadblock to avoid being stopped.”
Deputy Sheriff George Cayer stopped the vehicle at the Newry boat launch and while he was checking their names, the girlfriend, who wasn’t identified, and Dewhurst fled on foot, Daley said.
However, Cayer found the girlfriend, and she cooperated by calling Dewhurst and asking him to turn himself in, he said.
Dewhurst walked out of the woods and turned himself in to Daley, who was on Route 2.
“There are many wanted people traveling the Route 2 corridor,” Daley said. “We usually have several people turn on the roadblock for a variety of reasons.”
During the June 23 roadblock from 8:30 a.m. through 2:30 p.m. at the intersection of Routes 2 and 26 in Newry, 10 uniformed deputies and Maine State Police troopers stopped 828 vehicles and contacted 1,657 occupants, Daley said.
“Many of the motorists were local residents, many were vacationing in Maine and traveling to coastal and mountainous regions, some were taking the opportunity to visit the new Oxford Casino, and others were traveling to numerous U.S. locations to include 24 different states and four Canadian provinces: Quebec, Ontario, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island,” Daley said.
Also during the roadblock, 44 warnings/summonses were issued for the following violations: safety belt, equipment, studded-tire, inspection, registration, license and smoking in a vehicle with a child.
While the June 23 safety roadblock was being conducted, Daley said similar roadblocks were simultaneously conducted in Errol County, N.H., and on the Canadian side of the border in areas of Quebec.
All of the safety checks were done cooperatively between the Oxford County Sheriff's Office, Maine State Police, Errol County Sheriff's Office in New Hampshire, and the Surete Du Quebec Police as part of the collaborative effort designated "Borders Without Boundaries."
Daley said the safety roadblock's goals are to contact and educate motorists about safe driving habits. Among these are safety belt use, cellular telephone use and restrictions, distracted driving issues, fatigued motorist awareness, driving under the influence laws, equipment violations, border documentation, wildlife safety and awareness.