Alleged drunk drivers lead Williamstown police on chase through woods


WILLIAMSTOWN >> Two alleged drunk drivers led police on foot chases through the woods on two separate occasions on Wednesday, authorities said.

The two chases each led to an arrest, with both suspects expected to be arraigned on drunken driving charges later this month.

The first incident began about 3:10 a.m. when a North Hoosac Road resident called police to report a driver had just driven off the road and into his lawn. When officers arrived, they discovered a Blue Honda driving westbound had traveled off the road, up the homeowner's driveway, and struck some small trees, according to a police report filed by Williamstown Police Officer Kevin Garner.

The driver of the Honda was missing and the resident told police that he had seen her flee the scene and run into the woods.

A K-9 unit was called to the scene and, after about an hour of searching, the alleged driver was "flushed out of the woods and back onto the road," Garner stated.

Stephanie Coulter, 45, of Hall Street, North Adams, had a moderate odor of alcohol on her breath, was slurring her speech, and was unsteady on her feet, police said. She refused to undergo a sobriety test, according to the report, but was arrested anyway on charges of operating under the influence and leaving the scene of property damage.

Later that day, about 9:30 p.m., a Williamstown Police officer attempted to pull over a sedan on North Street that was allegedly traveling at 51 mph in a 35 mph zone. When Officer Preston Kelly attempted to pull the vehicle over, it continued through a rotary and onto West Main Street at a speed greater than 50 miles per hour, according to Kelly's criminal complaint.

The vehicle then turned onto Northwest Hill Road for about 1.5 miles but eventually crashed into a culvert, according to the police report. The car allegedly continued to drive off the road, through the woods, for a distance of about 150 feet.

The driver, later identified by police as Jose Whiteley, 25, of Route 7, North Pownal, Vt., allegedly exited the car and fled into the nearby woods.

Approximately an hour after the crash, officers using thermal imaging technology spotted Whiteley laying in a patch of brush approximately 100 yards away from where he left his car, which sustained extensive damage as a result of his driving, according to the police report. Police allege that Whiteley smelled strongly of alcohol and admitted to having been drinking shortly before an officer attempted to pull him over.

Coulter was not held on bail and is scheduled to be arraigned in Northern Berkshire District Court on Nov. 18. Whiteley is expected to be arraigned on Nov. 20 on charges of failing to stop for police, negligent operation of a motor vehicle, leaving the scene of property damage, speeding, and operating under the influence.

Contact Adam Shanks at 413-496-6376


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