Teenager With Learner's Permit Leads Police On Chase in Vermont

An unlicensed teen driver, who had only a learner’s permit, led police on a chase Monday morning that hit 115 miles per hour at one point, investigators said.

The wild ride ended in a ditch just off Route 78 in Alburgh, with a sound that made neighbor Judy Pelkey sit right up in bed.

“A big thud,” she said, remembering the sound of the teen’s car entering the ditch at the far side of her lawn. “And there he was!”

An even bigger shock was waiting for the investigating officer when he eventually learned who the driver was.

“It was a very big surprise,” Patrol Officer Robert Recore of the Swanton Village Police Department told necn.

According to a news release from the department, the driver turned out to be just 16 years old. He didn’t even have a license—only a learner’s permit, police said.

“I’m hoping the parents will sit them down and talk to them, and say, ‘Hey, it could’ve gone a lot worse than it was,’” Recore said of his response to learning the young age of the driver accused of leading police on the chase.

The pursuit started back on Interstate 89 North, Recore said, when Swanton Village Police tried to stop a driver going 98 miles per hour.

After the car didn’t stop, and exited the highway into Swanton, the pursuit through the village reached speeds of 65-75 miles per hour, police said.

The officer said he had no idea at the time he was dealing with a kid, but called off the chase when it hit 115 miles per hour on Route 78 heading toward the bridge over Lake Champlain to Alburgh.

The situation was just getting too dangerous, Recore said, with other cars on the road, so he decided to stop the pursuit to reduce the chances of a collision.

The officer said by the time he caught up with the teen’s vehicle and discovered it had skidded off the road and into the ditch, the boy was outside the car with a girl, whom the news release also identified as being 16.

Because of the young ages of the people involved, police did not release their names.

The pair then took off running through Judy Pelkey’s lawn, she said, racing for the tree line.

“These two people—young people—were running across the yard,” Pelkey recalled.

Other residents of the road where the car skidded into the ditch said in some spots, the woods in the area are dense, wet, and rugged. Police say the teens were hiding in the wooded area for an hour or more before eventually coming out.

“My advice would be: do a tick check on them,” said Kyle Gregoire, who lives near the scene of the foot pursuit. “Because it’s loaded around here—it’s the worst year I’ve ever seen.”

“You usually don’t get away,” another resident, Earl Curtis, observed about police chases. “Eventually, you always end up getting caught. It just makes it worse for everybody around.”

Both kids were released to the custody of their parents, police said, with the boy cited to appear in the Vermont Superior Court’s Franklin County Family Division to face several juvenile charges.

Recore said he is grateful no one was hurt, despite the driver’s inexperience.

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