SKOWHEGAN — A Madison man was arrested Monday night after crashing into a police cruiser while intoxicated and operating his van from the passenger seat, later claiming he was not the driver.

Skowhegan Police Chief David Bucknam said around 11:30 p.m. Monday, a Skowhegan officer was conducting routine traffic enforcement on Waterville Road. The officer noticed a van with its tail lights out and attempted to stop it, but the driver accelerated on Walnut Street. The driver of the van turned into the New Balance outlet building, which is a one-way entrance. The officer went to the other entrance to stop the van. Coming up to the van, the officer noticed the only occupant was a male in the passenger seat, holding the wheel with his left hand and waving his right hand.

“The vehicle continued towards the officer and struck the driver’s side door and front corner panel of the police vehicle,” Bucknam said.

Rex Hinerman

The driver of the van was identified as Rex Hinerman, 62, of Madison. Police questioned Hinerman, who said that another man had been driving the van, but he didn’t know who the man was, and that the man had gotten out of the vehicle and taken off running. Hinerman said he wasn’t driving because he didn’t have a license.

Bucknam said they called in state police to have a dog come in to smell the car. Police were able to determine that Hinerman was the only occupant in the van. Hinerman also had two different license plates attached to the van, one ending in 320 and the other ending in 321.

Hinerman was arrested on charges of unlawful possession of scheduled drugs, attaching false plates, operating under the influence and operating after revocation.

Bucknam did not know what kind of drugs Hinerman had when he was arrested. In the Somerset County jail booking logs, they are listed as schedule Z drugs, which are less serious drugs, such as marijuana or prescription drugs.

Hinerman was still in jail Tuesday at noon, and his bail was set at $160 cash. Bucknam said the police cruiser sustained only cosmetic damage, and the driver’s side door had trouble opening and closing. There were no injuries reported.

It was a busy Monday for Skowhegan police, as earlier in the day they were lead on an hour-and-a-half chase trying to catch a 600 pound bull that had escaped its trailer while on the way to the butcher. The bull ultimately ended up in the Kennebec River. It was fatally shot by police as it headed toward a crowd of onlookers.

Colin Ellis — 861-9253

[email protected]

Twitter: @colinoellis

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