Essex police arrested 23-year-old Benzel Hampton of Burlington on a warrant for illegal weapons charges out of New York, but not before a high speed vehicle chase spanned several towns Monday afternoon, a Vermont State Police press release said.
Hampton was pulled over for a motor vehicle violation on Interstate 89 in Middlesex when the state trooper learned of the warrant. When the trooper ordered Hampton out of the vehicle, the man fled the scene, traveling northbound, the press release said.
The trooper pursued Hampton at speeds of over 100 mph until Exit 11 in Richmond. Hampton struck a vehicle operated by 49-year-old Walter Ward of Cambridge on the exit ramp and fled the scene, police said. Ward was not hurt, but his and Hampton’s vehicles were badly damaged.
Richmond police picked up the chase soon after on Route 117 and attempted to stop Hampton. He failed to comply and continued on toward Essex where EPD began the pursuit near the intersection with Route 289, according to the press release.
Hampton continued on 117 into the Five Corners intersection, where another trooper picked up the pursuit onto Route 15. Hampton then crashed head-on into a vehicle driven by 49-year-old Michelle Bartlett of Essex, who was stopped at the Pearl St. and South Summit St. intersection, the press release said. Bartlett was uninjured in the crash.
Hampton then crashed his vehicle into a tree, totalling the car. He fled on foot and was finally detained by off-duty Chittenden County deputy sheriff Everett Burns, sheriff Kevin McLaughlin confirmed.
McLaughlin said Burns was on his way home from work when Hampton crossed in front of his vehicle. Burns heard the chase over his radio and was able to detain the subject.
Hampton’s passenger, 31-year-old Lucille Woodson, had exited the vehicle near Sand Hill Road in Essex and was unharmed, police said.
EPD arrested Hampton on a series of citations including resisting arrest, attempting to elude, gross negligent operation, reckless endangerment, impeding law enforcement, two counts of leaving the scene of an accident and being a fugitive from justice, according to the press release. He was arraigned on Tuesday morning at Chittenden County Superior Court in Burlington.