WOODSTOCK – A man awaiting trial on felony drug charges led several police on a high-speed pursuit through Bryant Pond village on Tuesday afternoon before being caught after an estimated three-mile foot chase through deep snow off Route 232.

Derrick Morrison, 27, of 40 West Summit Hill Road in Woodstock is being held without bail at Oxford County Jail in Paris on charges of violation of bail conditions, escape, eluding police and operating after suspension habitual offender status. Additional charges are pending, according to Trooper Daniel Hanson.

Hanson also arrested Morrison’s girlfriend, Alexandria Harris, 23, of the same address, who fell out of her van when Morrison drove it through a wall of snow at high speed at the end of a dead-end road.

Harris was also being held without bail Tuesday night at the Paris jail on a charge of violation of bail conditions.

In November, Morrison was indicted by an Oxford County grand jury on felony charges of aggravated trafficking in heroin and cocaine, aggravated unlawful furnishing of scheduled drugs, unlawful possession of scheduled drugs, possession of a firearm by a prohibited person, criminal forfeiture of $976 cash, and trafficking in prison contraband.

The drug charges stem from a Maine Drug Enforcement Agency arrest in Paris last August following an investigation focused on Morrison, whom police believed to be bringing drugs into the Paris area from Massachusetts.

Harris was also free on bail on a charge of possession of heroin in connection with the same investigation.

According to MDEA agents supervisor Gerry Baril, Morrison was being held at St. Francis Halfway House at 24 Dunn St. in Auburn for substance abuse treatment when he left last week without permission.

Oxford County deputies, Maine State Police troopers and MDEA agents searched for Morrison after the escape and finally located him Tuesday morning at Harris’ house, State Police Lt. Walter Grzyb said Tuesday afternoon off Route 232.

While getting search and arrest warrants and keeping the pair under surveillance, Grzyb said Morrison and Harris left in her Ford Econoline 250 van.

Near the Woodstock town office on Route 26 at 1:50 p.m., Hanson said Oxford County Cpl. Justin Brown and four officers with him inside his SUV cruiser attempted to stop the van. But Morrison, who was driving, sped off. Responding officers were told to consider Morrison armed and dangerous.

“There was unconfirmed information that he had a firearm,” Grzyb said. When apprehended, Morrison had no weapon, but Trooper Tyler Stevenson and his tracking dog Ramos were searching for any possible discarded items as night fell.

“I saw the van accelerate and start to pull away (from Brown),” Hanson said. “After he got onto Rumford Avenue, Brown turned off and I took over. On Rumford Avenue, his speed was 80 mph. Then, he almost stopped on Rumford Avenue and Route 232, took his seat belt off, and we thought he was going to jump out and run.”

Instead, Hanson said Morrison sped across Route 232 onto icy Billings Hill Road, then branched off on Ricker Road, both dead ends.

Hanson said the van, traveling at a high rate of speed uphill on an icy road, smashed through a wall of plowed-up snow, bounced across a small brook and came to rest precariously tilted on the edge of a field, stuck in snow.

“If it had gone a few more feet, it would have rolled over and we’d be looking at something different. Thankfully, nobody got hurt,” Hanson said.

While the van was still moving, Hanson said Morrison jumped out and took off running through deep snow as Harris fell out the passenger-side door onto the snow. He quickly handcuffed her as more officers arrived to help.

“Morrison was at gunpoint, and he refused commands to stop and ran into the woods,” Hanson said.

After securing Harris, whom a Paris patrolman drove to the jail, Hanson, Brown, and state police Sgt. Don Shedd, and Troopers Adam Fillebrown, Christopher Cookson, and Oxford County Deputy William Nelson pursued Morrison. Additional officers from several agencies responded to their call for help to secure a perimeter.

At one point, officers worried that Morrison might double around to routes 232 or 26 and hitch a ride, so both roads were temporarily shut down so police could search vehicles, as needed.

Then, Fillebrown went back to get his tracking dog Karo, and they and arriving Rumford police Sgt. James Bernard rejoined the foot pursuit.

Hanson said Morrison skimmed a large hill leading them into a valley, then back through the tree line and over a ridge on Chamberlain Mountain, paralleling Route 232, before breaking off toward the road. At one point, Morrison slid down a steep hill.

“The problems with deep snow when you hike through the woods is it’s very exhausting. We lost sight of him quite a few times, because we were always extremely cautious, not knowing if a weapon was involved or not,” Hanson said.

“It was a hard walk and nerve-wracking not knowing if he was going to double back on us,” Bernard said.

As police closed in, Morrison hunkered down in snow, then surrendered when Karo was released to pinpoint his hiding place, Bernard said, which was just over the Woodstock town line in Milton Township.

Additional officers were preparing to hike in or ride snowmobiles into the search area when Morrison was caught about 3:10 p.m.

Dressed in wet blue jeans and a hooded sweatshirt, Morrison was handcuffed and led out to Brown’s SUV parked on a dead-end road off Route 232 in Bethel. He was taken to jail.

“Hopefully, the judge will take all of this into consideration and not release (Morrison) on bail anytime soon,” Baril said.


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