RANGELEY — A Dixfield man remained hospitalized in Portland on Saturday after the stolen car he was driving at a high rate of speed down Main Street slammed into a Rangeley gift shop, police said.

Several charges from police in three towns are pending against Christopher Labbe, 43, including felony burglary and eluding, Rangeley Sgt. Jared Austin said.

Labbe was taken by LifeFlight medical helicopter at about 1:30 a.m. to Maine Medical Center from Rangeley Airport after emergency responders removed him from the demolished 2007 Toyota Corolla, Austin said.

Austin said he didn’t know what condition Labbe was in, but said Labbe told a medic that he had pre-existing back and neck injuries. A nursing supervisor said late Saturday afternoon that Labbe was in satisfactory condition.

The incident began late Friday night when Labbe stole the Toyota in Dixfield and fled into Mexico, Austin said. Mexico police Lt. Dan Carrier tried to make a traffic stop, but Labbe eluded Dixfield, Mexico and Rumford police and headed up Route 17 toward Oquossoc village at a high rate of speed when police broke off pursuit, Austin said.

They alerted the Franklin County Sheriff’s Department in Farmington and a dispatcher there radioed Austin the information.


Austin said he was driving on Route 4 toward Oquossoc and getting information from the dispatcher to watch for a blue Toyota Corolla traveling at a high rate of speed when a blue car went zipping past him heading east.

“The vehicle was traveling 75 mph in a 55-mph zone and I didn’t know if it was the stolen car or not,” Austin said. “I just slowed and turned around into the opposite lane and the vehicle just accelerated and he was gone just like that.”

“I got up to the top of Cemetery Hill and hit my blues and he’s already half a mile ahead of me down by the Town & Lake Motel & Cottages” at 2668 Main St., Austin said. “I was not chasing him. I was trying to catch up to get visual contact, because I didn’t know if he was going to stay on Route 4 out of Rangeley or take Route 16 toward Stratton.

“And as I got closer, I see a large cloud of dust near the intersection of Pleasant Street (Route 16), where he lost control going around the corner, went off the road into dirt at the intersection, and then over-corrected, crossing both lanes while driving straight across and into Mo’s Variety.”

Mo’s Variety is at 2499 Main St. Austin said the Corolla jumped the curb, crossed the sidewalk and slammed into the corner of the gift store at about 12:50 a.m. Saturday.

“He hit it at such a high rate of speed that the building shifted off its foundation,” Austin said. “There was a ton of damage inside (the store). He did thousands of dollars of damage to the building.”


Austin said he was hoping the driver was alive. “And then I saw that the air bag had gone off and he was unconscious, with lacerations to his head. He was probably unconscious for four or five minutes.”

Austin said Labbe wasn’t wearing a seat belt. “His first words to me when he came to were that he didn’t stop because he didn’t have a driver’s license. It was suspended. Then he told the (LifeStar Ambulance) medic that he was traveling close to 100 mph when he came down Main Street, and then 70 mph when he hit the building. He is very lucky to be alive.”

Austin said Rangeley firefighters were able to “pop the doors open and pull him out.”

The sergeant said that on the past few nights, cars had been parked along the side of the street where Labbe crashed the car, but there weren’t any there early Saturday morning. There’s also usually a lot of traffic at that spot.

“We have numerous bars and they would have been closing at that time, so thank God there was no traffic coming through there,” Austin said.


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