A damaged 2002 Ford Super Duty pickup towing a U-Haul trailer lies beside the southbound lane of the Maine Turnpike on Tuesday after the driver, David Stoddard, 49, of Topsham, led police on a high-speed chase from Kennebunk to York, according to Maine State Police. The pursuit ended when Stoddard crashed near mile marker 4. Maine State Police photo

LEWISTON — A Topsham man is facing multiple felony charges after leading police on a high-speed chase on the Maine Turnpike from Kennebunk to York on Tuesday, according to Maine State Police.

The chase, which occurred in the southbound lanes, created a multi-vehicle accident in the northbound lane in which a Falmouth couple died.

David Stoddard, 49, of Topsham will be charged with elevated aggravated assault, aggravated reckless conduct, aggravated driving to endanger and eluding police, according to a state police news release.

According to a state police spokesperson, on Tuesday police received about six calls reporting an erratic vehicle being driven in the southbound lane of the turnpike.

Trooper Lee Vanadestine saw a white 2002 Ford Super Duty pickup towing a U-Hail trailer and pursued it but it failed to stop. The pickup continued at high speed through three lanes of traffic, according to police, nearly striking multiple vehicles.

Vanadestine attempted to end the chase by ramming the trailer to disable it, but lost control of his cruiser, which crashed into the guardrail on the median and was disabled. He sustained minor injuries in the crash.

Trooper Jarrot MacKinnon then took the lead in the pursuit as a Kittery police officer attempted to set spike mats to disable the vehicle. The spike mats were not successful.

Kittery police Lt. John Desjardins suffered minor injuries Tuesday when his cruiser was rammed during a high-speed chase on the Maine Turnpike. Desjardins was parked in the 4.5-mile marker crossover to assist in the pursuit when he was struck. Maine State Police photo

Shortly after that attempt, according to State Police Social Media Coordinator Katharine England, Stoddard rammed a Kittery police cruiser occupied by Lt. John Desjardins, ending the chase.

Desjardins had parked in the 4.5-mile marker crossover waiting to assist in the pursuit, and received minor injuries.

When Stoddard was taken into custody, Trooper MacKinnon was injured.

Stoddard was transported to York Hospital for treatment of injuries not considered life-threatening.

Desjardins, Vanadestine and MacKinnon were treated for their injuries and were released from the hospital.

Stoddard had seven convictions for excessive speed between April 2011 and July 2013. In 2011, his license was twice suspended for speeding and in 2013 his license was revoked for three years based on his habitual speeding violations. It was restored in August 2016.

In 2014 he was convicted of operating after suspension and in 2016, less than a month after getting his license back, he was charged with operating beyond his license restrictions and later convicted.

In October 2014 he was charged with eluding a police officer in Bath; the charge was dismissed when Stoddard pleaded to other charges. In 2015, he was charged with criminal mischief and violating conditions of release. The criminal mischief charge was later dismissed.

Stoddard pleaded guilty to the charge of violating conditions and was fined $100.

According to England, as the chase was underway, there was a three-vehicle accident in the northbound lanes. Geoffrey and Elizabeth Gattis, who lived in Falmouth, were both killed in that crash.

In a written statement, England said the chase in the southbound lanes caused traffic to slow on the northbound side.

A Freightliner tractor-trailer loaded with large paper rolls and driven by Lakhveer Gill, 40, of Brantford, Ontario, was traveling north. Behind him, Geoffrey Gattis, 68, and his wife, Elizabeth Gattis, 68, were driving a 2014 Lexus RX230.

As the chase unfolded in the southbound lanes, both vehicles heading north slowed down. An unloaded tractor-trailer driven north by David Herring, 38, of South Portland, failed to recognize traffic ahead had slowed and struck the Lexus from behind.

The force of the impact pushed the Gattis’ car into the back of the first tractor-trailer, crushing the smaller vehicle. The couple died at the scene.

According to England, the investigation is ongoing. Speed and alcohol do not appear to be factors.

Once the investigation is complete, it will be reviewed by the York County District Attorney’s Office.

Geoffrey and Elizabeth Gattis were members of The Foreside Community Church United Church of Christ and, in a 2018 church newsletter, Geoffrey Gattis wrote about his recent retirement as a commercial lender with Bath Savings Bank and about the couple’s recent 8,000-mile, five-week road trip through 26 states, visiting eight national parks.

The couple, who were married for 42 years, were well known as active community volunteers in and around Falmouth.

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