Lenox car, foot chase leads to arrest of Westfield man

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LENOX — A Westfield man was arrested Sunday after leading police on a high-speed chase on narrow country roads and then fleeing on foot through woods in Kennedy Park.

Matthew D. Witaszek, 36, also tried to escape custody while being evaluated at Berkshire Medical Center, according to Lenox Police.

Witaszek sped away about 9:30 a.m. after Lenox Officer Dylan Bencivenga spotted him on Route 7/20 driving a Jeep Grand Cherokee with a tail light out, said Police Chief Stephen E. O'Brien.

He took a sharp right onto Lime Kiln Road, rapidly accelerating, then turning onto West Mountain Road and West Dugway Road, driving as fast as 65 mph at times, O'Brien said. He then headed back to the highway and made a U-turn in front of the Arcadian Shop, narrowly missing another vehicle.

Witaszek then abandoned his vehicle in the parking lot of the Days Inn and fled into the woods with Bencivenga in pursuit. The officer had radioed for backup from Lenox Officer Eric Kirby, his partner on the day shift, as well as Lee, Stockbridge and state police.

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The suspect ran across the heavily traveled state highway and jumped a guardrail, before he was captured in the Baker Pond area just south of West Dugway Road. Bencivenga and Lee Police Officer Ben Towne made the arrest.

After complaining of chest pains at the Lenox police station, Witaszek was transported to BMC, where he was examined and released back into police custody after trying to escape by climbing through a restroom ceiling, according to the police report.

Witaszek pleaded not guilty in Southern Berkshire District Court on Monday to charges of operating a motor vehicle to endanger the public, resisting arrest, attempting to escape from police custody, failure to stop for a police officer and operating a motor vehicle with a suspended license. A pretrial hearing was set for March 23.

He is scheduled to be transported Tuesday to Hampden Superior Court in Springfield, where he was wanted for failing to appear for a probation hearing related to an armed robbery charge.

Clarence Fanto can be reached at cfanto@berkshireeagle.com and 413-637-2551.


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