A young man and woman have been ordered held on bond after a chase involving a car and a truck ended at Wheeler High School when Connecticut State Police asked the OnStar system to shut off the engine of the second stolen vehicle.
The pair, Isaiah Rivera, 21, of New Britain, and Ariana Faith Orkney, 19, of Mansfield, were arraigned in Norwich Superior Court Monday on charges of third-degree criminal trespassing, second-degree criminal trover, interfering with police/resisting arrest, first-degree larceny, engaging police in pursuit, evading responsibility in a crash and reckless driving ("trover," a misdemeanor, relates to the use of property without consent in a way that diminishes its value).
Both pleaded not guilty and were ordered held in lieu of a $50,000 bond, according to Connecticut judicial records. They were still in state custody as of Tuesday afternoon.
Connecticut State Police Col. Colonel J. Stavros Mellekas pointed out the "vital public safety partnership we have with the private sector ... OnStar helped us bring this incident to a safe conclusion and we appreciate that."
The state police said the two were northbound on Route 12 in Preston around 8 p.m. in a car reported stolen from Waterford earlier in the day when a trooper tried to stop them. The car, driven by Rivera, sped off and police pursued it in a chase that extended into Gales Ferry and Ledyard, where Ledyard police joined in. The car continued east on Route 2A, north onto Harris Fuller Road and eventually tried to turn near a T-intersection with Middle Road in Preston before it went out of control and hit a tree head-on.
The two ran through the neighborhood, through numerous backyards, and eluded the police. As Ledyard and state police prepared to begin a K-9 unit search, the police said the pair stole a Chevy Silverado in view of its owner, who ran out of his home and reported the theft to a nearby officer.
An off-duty officer spotted the truck and began to follow it until an on-duty officer could catch up. Police also learned from the owner that the truck was equipped with OnStar and contacted the company, which provided GPS information as it headed east along Route 2 in North Stonington.
As the truck was approaching Wheeler High School, OnStar shut down the engine, and Rivera and Orkney jumped from the truck while it was still going nearly 15 mph.
Unattended, the truck continued to roll east, crossing the center line and crashing head-on into a minivan occupied by a pregnant mother and four children. The police said they were not injured.
The suspects fled into the woods behind the school, but got stuck in heavy brush and were eventually taken into custody, the police said. Rivera suffered minor injuries and was treated at Backus Hospital in Norwich before being taken into custody. Orkney was not injured.
The owner of the Silverado retrieved it and drove it home that night, the police said.