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Long IslandCrime

Cops: Driver crashes after leading Suffolk police in pursuit

The reportedly stolen vehicle crashed and overturned on

The reportedly stolen vehicle crashed and overturned on Old Country Road in Melville early Saturday, Aug. 5, 2017. Credit: Stringer News Service

A driver of a stolen vehicle who was critically injured in a Melville crash during a police pursuit early Saturday has been arrested and charged with driving while intoxicated and other crimes, Suffolk County Police said.

At 3:12 a.m., a police officer from the Second Precinct saw a man behind the wheel of a 2001 Ford “driving recklessly” southbound on New York Avenue at East 15th Street in Huntington Station, Suffolk County Police said in a news release. The officer began pursuing the vehicle, which had been reported stolen from Bay Shore about 2:30 a.m., the news release said.

When an officer attempted to pull over the vehicle, the driver, Justice Bennett, 19, of Bay Shore, fled before crashing at 3:16 a.m., police said.

“The pursuit ended when the driver of the stolen vehicle lost control of the vehicle and the vehicle crashed and flipped,” Assistant Suffolk Police Commissioner Justin Meyers said in a telephone interview.

The driver was taken from the scene on Old County Road, west of Ponderosa Drive, by the Melville Fire Department to Nassau University Medical Center in East Meadow, where he was listed in critical condition but is expected to survive, Meyers said.

Three other occupants of the vehicle, a 13-year-old and two 14-year-olds, were taken to the same hospital for treatment of non-life-threatening injuries, police said.

Bennett has been charged with criminal possession of stolen property, three counts of endangering the welfare of a child, unlawful fleeing of police and three counts of violating Leandra’s Law, Meyers said. He is scheduled for arraignment at a later date, police said.

Information on Bennett’s attorney was not immediately available.

“We have very, very specific rules and procedures of how a pursuit is initiated and approved by supervisors, all of which was done appropriately last night,” Meyers said.

The vehicle had been impounded for a safety check, police said. The investigation is continuing.

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