BRATTLEBORO -- Four members of the Brattleboro Fire Department's dive team were called to a motor vehicle accident in Claremont, N.H., early Friday morning.
According to Brattleboro Fire Chief Michael Bucossi, the department received a call for assistance from the New Hampshire State Police at 3:41 a.m. and were on scene at the Sugar River 45 minutes later.
"We had a report of a motor-vehicle accident with a car completely submerged with the occupants believed to be still in it," said Bucossi.
According to a press release from the N.H. State Police, Trooper Charles Newton attempted to stop a vehicle at 3:20 a.m. on Elm Street in Claremont near the intersection of Factory Street and Main Street. When Newton activated his cruiser lights, the vehicle, a 2006 Toyota Tundra, accelerated rapidly through the intersection and onto Factory Street, a dead end road that borders the Sugar River.
The vehicle went through the end of the road, crashed through trees, became airborne and crashed into the river.
The driver, later identified as Travis Hattey, 18, of Walpole, N.H., was initially seen holding onto rocks at the base of the embankment. As officers retrieved a rope to assist Hattey up the embankment, he disappeared into the river. Officers also saw the passenger, a juvenile from Westminster, swimming across the river, away from the police. He was later located in Bellows Falls.
Brattleboro's dive team, which is part of the Southwestern Water Rescue Task Force, searched the river for more than five hours in an attempt to locate Hattey, who was eventually found several hours later in Claremont.
Following an investigation, troopers learned the vehicle had been stolen earlier in the morning from a residence in North Walpole, N.H. This information was not known at the time Newton attempted to stop the vehicle, stated the press release.
Hattey was cited with reckless conduct with a deadly weapon, receiving stolen property, disobeying an officer, conduct after an accident and driving while intoxicated. He was arraigned in 5th Circuit Court, Claremont Division, on Friday afternoon.
The N.H. State Police were also assisted by the Claremont Police and Fire Departments and the Walpole Police Department.
Bucossi said the dive team was back in town at 7:30 a.m. It operates as part of the task force under a regional mutual aid agreement. He said the dive team gets called out to assist other agencies about once a month. The Brattleboro Fire Department's dive team is one of the few in the region that can conduct water rescues or searches.
Bucossi said if the dive team is called out to help with an investigation that results in criminal charges, it can recoup its costs as part of the court proceedings.
Anyone who might have information about the Friday morning incident is urged to call the New Hampshire State Police at 603-223-8494.
Bob Audette can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or at 802-254-2311, ext. 160. Follow Bob on Twitter @audette. reformer.