SOUTH BERWICK (AP) – The state has taken custody of three young children who were in their mother’s car when police saw her driving erratically and tried to stop her, authorities said.

Luella Mae French, 34, of North Berwick, was arrested early Saturday when she was cornered in a Berwick driveway more than two hours after her driving first caught the attention of police.

Berwick police Capt. Jerry Locke said conditions in the car were deplorable. It contained rotten eggs and meat, and beer cans. He said an infant was covered in insect bites, and none of the children had bathed in a long time and appeared ill.

The chase began about 10 p.m. Friday in South Berwick when French was first stopped for speeding and having an improperly attached license plate. The officer also suspected the woman was driving under the influence.

French will likely face a variety of charges in each of the communities, including operating without a license, hit and run, operating under the influence, and failure to stop for a law enforcement officer.

After her arrest, the Maine Department of Human Services was contacted and the children, one an infant and all under age 9, were taken into protective custody.

French is scheduled to appear in York District Court on Aug. 14.

AP-ES-06-17-03 1750EDT

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