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Police chase ends in Southampton bay

A police chase that began in Westhampton Beach early Wednesday ended when the pursued and the pursuer drove their cars into a cove off Moriches Bay and waited atop their vehicles for help, police said.

Neither the unidentified Southampton officer nor the driver he was chasing, who is suspected of driving a stolen car, was injured when the cars drove into the chilly water, police said.

The suspect was identified as Vincent Thomas, 36, of Brookhaven, officials said. Charges against him include driving while ability impaired by drugs, fourth-degree criminal possession of stolen property and third-degree unlawful fleeing of a police officer, police said.

He was arraigned Wednesday in Southampton Town Justice Court and held without bail at the Southampton Police Department, officials said.

Just after midnight Wednesday, according to a police news release, the Southampton officer spotted a car on westbound Montauk Highway in Westhampton "with no taillights and failing to maintain" its lane of travel.

The officer signaled for the driver to pull over the car, but he ignored the emergency lights and siren and accelerated, police said.

It was unclear how fast they were going.

Police said the cars left Montauk Highway and made their way onto Basket Neck Lane and continued off the end of the paved road onto the unlit dirt road.

That road ended at the water's edge and both cars kept going, according to police.

The pursuit "ended abruptly when both vehicles could not avoid driving into the Moriches Bay," according to the release. "Both the officer and the operator had to seek safety from the cold water by climbing onto the roofs of their vehicles until they could be rescued."

Police said Suffolk police had reported the car Thomas was driving as stolen from Bayport.

With Bill Mason

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