WINCHESTER, N.H. -- A spokeswoman for the United States Postal Service's Northeast area said there are ways for locals to get the services they need until the Ashuelot Post Office is re-opened after a speeding motorist crashed into it Sunday night.
Melissa Lohnes told the Reformer all Post Office box holders at the Ashuelot Post Office can visit the Winchester Post Office at 11 Richmond Road and pick up their mail by showing photo identification. She said people can go to the Winchester location or any other post office in the area for postal retail services, such as sending priority mail or purchasing stamps. There will be no changes to delivery services, Lohnes said.
She also mentioned no mail was damaged and no postal employees were injured when the car crashed into the Ashuelot Post Office. She told the Reformer she does not know when the Ashuelot location, at 8 Main St., will re-open. According to its website, the USPS rents the facility from Sullivan resident Lester W. Thayer, but attempts by the Reformer to contact him Tuesday were unsuccessful.
Lohnes said the United State Postal Inspection Service has joined the Winchester Police Department to investigate the scene of the incident. Police say Gage B. Gushlaw, 21, of Keene, led them on a high-speed chase, driving west on Route 119 shortly after 7 p.m. on Sunday when he lost control of the car he was operating, struck a fence and slammed into the right side of the Ashuelot Post Office. Police Chief Gary A. Phillips said Gushlaw was cited with reckless driving, disobeying an officer, driving after revocation, conduct after an accident, a subsequent aggravated DWI offense and speeding and highway marking violations. He is being held at the Cheshire County Department of Corrections, Phillips told the Reformer.
According to a report, Winchester Police responded to a domestic disturbance at a stopped motor vehicle in the area of 116 Keene Road at 7:05 p.m. Phillips told the Reformer Gushlaw's girlfriend, also of Keene, was driving a 1998 Oldsmobile Cutlass with Gushlaw as her passenger when the two got into a dispute. The chief said Gushlaw then yanked the keys out of the ignition and Gushlaw's girlfriend pulled over to the side of the road, where she was soon driven from the scene by a Winchester resident. Phillips said Gushlaw then drove the Oldsmobile Cutlass from the scene, following the vehicle that was transporting his girlfriend toward Keene.
Officers were taking information at the scene moments later and saw Gushlaw speed past them on Keene Road, heading toward downtown Winchester. They followed Gushlaw but lost sight of him and Phillips said the chase was called off because Gushlaw was driving more than 100 mph. A Hinsdale Police officer responding to assist saw Gushlaw pass him at a high rate of speed going west on Route 119 before the crash. Gushlaw fled the scene on foot but was apprehended by police after what Phillips said was a 15-minute search.
Phillips said Gushlaw, who suffered minor injuries, will be cited with simple assault pending a written statement from the victim.
"It's a miracle that no one was seriously injured in that incident," the chief said Tuesday. "We're fortunate it was Sunday and the Post Office was closed."
Phillips told the Reformer Bergeron Construction has already been to the building and installed jacks to prevent it from falling over. The police chief said the vehicle is registered to an Ashuelot resident and does not have insurance associated with it.
Domenic Poli can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or 802-254-2311, ext. 277. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoli_reformer.