WESTERLY — A Bristol man was been ordered held without bond after the police said he stole a 1955 Chevrolet from a man in Narragansett on Tuesday, rear-ended a car on Route 1 in Charlestown and then led police on a chase in Westerly before crashing the car into a ditch near Robin Hollow Lane.
Westerly police took the man, Keith Barrieault, 43, into custody around 3:40 p.m. He was arraigned in Fourth Division District Court Wednesday on charges from the various towns of driving a car without the owner's consent, reckless driving, failure to stop for an accident resulting in damage, and driving without a license.
Barrieault was also charged on a bench warrant from 6th Division District Court related to a domestic case in Warren.
Westerly police Chief Shawn Lacey said it appeared, from what Barrieault said, that he believed he was going to be sentenced to go back to prison on Wednesday, "so he took the car and figured he'd head for the Connecticut border."
According to a police report, Barrieault told officers that he was working as a painter for a homeowner in Narragansett and decided to take the fully restored, cherry red and white 1955 Chevrolet Bel Air parked in the garage. The homeowner was not present at the time.
Lacey said Barrieault headed toward Connecticut, but struck a car in Charlestown. The Charlestown police told Westerly dispatchers that the Chevy was likely headed south on Route 1. A patrol officer in the vicinity of Walmart spotted the car a few moments later, Lacey said.
The officer saw the car using the breakdown lane near the center median to pass two other cars at high speed, Lacey said. The officer tried to make a traffic stop but Barrieault turned suddenly into the Dunn's Corners Mobil on Post Road, sped around the building and then headed back north on Route 1, with the officer following him.
The chase continued past South Woody Hill Road and to the area of Robin Hollow Road, when Barrieault swerved and crossed the center media and two southbound lanes before going off the road and into a wooded area.
Barrieault tried to flee, the police said, but the car got stuck in the brush. The officer eventually helped him get through the passenger's side of the car and was taken into custody.
Lacey said Barrieault suffered minor scrapes and bruises, but was otherwise uninjured and declined medical attention. The car sustained "easily thousands of dollars in damage," but was not likely to be seen as a total loss, he said.
Officers also discovered that Barrieault was carrying documents from his recent release from the Adult Correctional Institutions in Cranston, as well as $500 in cash. He had received the money as payment from the homeowner but the owner was not aware that the car had been taken.
Barrieault, who has a lengthy court record, was ordered held without bond. Online court records show he is expected to appear back in court on July 31.