BRYANT POND – Bethel Police Chief Darren M. Tripp’s left knee is swollen to the size of a grapefruit.

And it hurts.

But he figures it’s a lot better than the alternatives he faced Wednesday when a Bryant Pond man being pursued by police allegedly tried to run him over.

Police say James Knightly, 20, had been leading Oxford County sheriff’s deputies on a chase from West Paris to Paris and then back north again.

Tripp followed the pursuit on the police radio channel and headed south from Bethel on Route 26. He offered to help by setting spike mats in Bryant Pond.

He set them out at the bottom of Merrifield Hill on Route 26 and positioned his cruiser so that the speeding driver could not get by.

Tripp then went into a ditch behind his cruiser.

It wasn’t long before the suspect, who had avoided placement of two sets of spike mats already, came tearing over the hill.

He spotted the mats and came to a screeching halt, according to Tripp.

“He saw the mat and turned his wheels toward me,” Tripp said. “We had eye contact when he revved his engine at me. He revved his motor three times and came right at me. He was going around my cruiser to avoid the spike mat.”

Tripp said he didn’t think he was going to be able to dodge the approaching car.

“I dove backwards to get out of the way,” Tripp said. “I don’t know how close it was, but sand from his tires was thrown in my face as he went by.”

County Deputy Brian Landis, driving the first cruiser in pursuit of the suspect, and Sgt. Chris Wainwright, both told the communications center that they thought Tripp had been hit.

Tripp learned at the Bethel Health Center that he wrenched his knee and that ligament or cartilage damage was possible, but undiagnosable until the swelling goes down.

“It’s as close as I have ever come to having somebody take me out,” Tripp said.

Tripp said the chase was a good example of inter-department cooperation in rural law enforcement that involved a half-dozen law enforcement agencies and the radio dispatchers.

“If you need help you know you have officers coming,” Tripp said. “It doesn’t matter if it’s a blue car, white car or black car.

“The proof is that the bad guy’s in jail, nobody’s hurt and it ended how we are trained to make it end,” Tripp said.

Actually, one person was hurt.

Tripp said the doctor’s orders were to stay off his knee until Sunday.


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