AMESBURY — At speeds up to 90 mph and with blue lights flashing in his rearview mirror, a Haverhill man led police on a wild chase yesterday morning on interstates 495 and 95, on local roads and across the highway median.
A spike stick thrown across I-95 by an Amesbury officer finally flattened the tires on Keith S. Babcock's green SUV. But Babcock wasn't finished with his chase — he tried to escape on foot and was quickly grabbed by police.
Babcock, 30, formerly of Seabrook, is expected to be arraigned today in Newburyport District Court for negligent operation of a motor vehicle, failure to stop for police, being a fugitive from justice, speeding, resisting arrest, marked lanes violation and assault with a dangerous weapon after allegedly driving his Ford Explorer at police cruisers.
Babcock, of 30 Pilling St., Haverhill, had been previously charged with breaking and entering a home on Crown Hill Road in Atkinson, N.H., on March 30 and stealing jewelry, a computer and an iPad tablet. Yesterday's chase started when Haverhill police sought to arrest Babcock after spotting him near Washington and High streets on the fugitive from justice warrant issued out of New Hampshire for that break-in.
"Apparently he was living somewhere in the Mount Washington area of Haverhill,'' Haverhill police Detective John Spero said.
Spero said he first spotted Babcock's Ford Explorer with New Hampshire plates around 10:30 a.m.
"I saw the vehicle, got behind him, then a marked cruiser pulled behind him and we both followed him until the chase was called off. We chased him onto Lowell Avenue, then he got on the (I-495) highway toward the beach. Our chase got called off when we were between the Main Street and (Northern Essex Community College) exits."
State police from the Newbury barracks received a call from Haverhill police requesting assistance in their pursuit.
Babcock exited Interstate 495 at the community college exit in Haverhill, with state police in pursuit. As he sped down Route 110, he was pursued by Merrimac police through several side streets before he got back on Interstate 495 north. The pursuit reached speeds of between 80 and 90 mph as it pushed northward on Interstate 495. Babcock raced around a sharp turn that brings drivers onto I-95 known locally as the "Dead Man's Curve." Once Babcock crossed into New Hampshire, Massachusetts state police stopped following him.
Seabrook police were ready for him and picked up the chase. But a mile or so up the highway, Babcock changed directions, using the median crossing normally reserved for police, and suddenly he was heading south again.
Seabrook police followed him back to the state line. Massachusetts state police rejoined the pursuit, as Babcock turned off onto the Route 286 exit in Salisbury and then onto a local town road. From there, he got back onto Interstate 95 southbound.
As he approached the Whittier Bridge over the Merrimack River, Amesbury police Sgt. William Scholtz successfully threw out stop sticks, which punctured the tires on Babcock's vehicle near the Route 110 exit in Amesbury.
Scholtz said he stationed himself in the breakdown lane and waited until just before Babcock passed his position. He then threw the sticks, which have a range of almost 16 feet, into the right travel lane just south of the Route 110 overpass.
Babcock continued for a short distance on the punctured tires before stopping and running out of the car. Troopers and officers caught him on foot along the side of the highway.
At the conclusion of Babcock's Massachusetts court appearance today, he will be returned to New Hampshire, where he will answer to the burglary chargers out of Atkinson. Police are anticipating additional charges being filed against Babcock from other towns in New Hampshire.
Before the chase started, Babcock and his SUV were already known to Haverhill police. In November of 2010, Haverhill police charged Babcock with breaking and entering and larceny in connection to a break at a home on Belvedere Road, with an accomplice. Spero said Babcock was driving the same green Ford Explorer when he was caught. At the time he was found with stolen property from a break in New Hampshire, including a laptop computer, an XBox console, jewelry and coins. Spero said Babcock stole jewelry and change from the Belvedere Road home.
Eagle Tribune reporter Mike LaBella contributed to this report