NORWAY — A late-night police chase Friday ended in a fiery two-car crash that killed the pursued driver and critically injured a local woman, police said Saturday. 

Oxford County deputies had just called off the pursuit, according to a news release issued by the Oxford County Sheriff’s Office, when the fleeing vehicle crashed into another vehicle, causing it to erupt in fire, just beyond the intersection of Watson Road and Route 118 at 11:20 p.m.

According to the release, the incident began at Crazy 8’s in Paris where William Stella, 36, of Stoneham, Mass., had an altercation with staff at the bar because they refused to allow him into the premises. A family member was called to pick up Stella, but he refused to leave with them. He became highly agitated and fled the scene in his 2003 Nissan 350Z, police said.

Cpl. Christopher Davis witnessed Stella “driving recklessly doing 360s/burnouts as (he) sped from (Crazy 8’s) parking lot out onto Main Street,” according to the news release. 

The vehicle accelerated rapidly, reaching criminal speeds as it continued south along Route 26 through the dense residential and business district of Paris and Main Street, Norway, and into the town of Waterford, police said.

As Davis pursued, Stella repeatedly traveled in the opposite lane of traffic and onto the dirt shoulder, endangering potential motorists as he reached speeds in excess of 85 mph, police said.

At one point he turned off all of his vehicle lights, traveling in complete darkness in the oncoming lane while attempting to evade Davis.

“Cpl. Davis, concerned for the safety of everyone involved, checked with dispatch to see if other law enforcement units were west of his location and advised dispatch he was not going to be able to safely catch up to and stop the vehicle,” according to the release.

Then Davis saw “a bright orange glow about a half-mile ahead of him and radioed dispatch that he believed the vehicle ‘had wrecked.'”

Davis arrived at the scene of a two-vehicle crash in which Stella’s vehicle had struck an oncoming vehicle in the eastbound lane. The second vehicle was a 2005 Hyundai Elantra operated by Jennifer Clough, 42, of Norway, police said.

“Cpl. Davis observed the Stella vehicle further down the road completely engulfed in flames,” according to the statement.

Clough’s vehicle also was on fire, police said. Davis used his fire extinguisher to put out the fire and got Clough out of the burning vehicle with help from officer Brandon Correia of the Norway Police Department.

Clough was taken by LifeFlight medical helicopter to Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston in critical condition.

Intense flames prohibited firefighters from approaching Stella’s vehicle, but they extinguished the fire and the flames in the woods around the vehicle.

Stella was pronounced dead at the scene.

The section of Route 118 between Yagger Road and Old Town Farm Road was closed for about five hours, officials said.

Maine State Police are handling the investigation with assistance from the Oxford County Sheriff’s Office, which is conducting the accident reconstruction. Both vehicles were towed from the scene and impounded at the county impound yard.

Police believe alcohol and speed were factors in the crash.

 


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