At 1:24 p.m. Tuesday, Westport officer Tara Souza was in a marked police cruiser southbound on Gifford Road. While stopped in traffic at the stop sign at Old County Road, she said that a green Chevrolet Lumina passed the stopped cars in the opposite lane of traffic and headed west on Old County Road without stopping. Officer Souza activated her lights and siren in an attempt to stop the vehicle.
The driver sped away from Officer Souza past Westport Middle School and turned left on Route 88 after going through a red light, she said, forcing oncoming cars to swerve out the way.The Chevrolet continued south on Route 88 passing cars in the opposite lane of travel as it continued through another red light at the intersection of Charlotte White Road. Due to concern for public safety Officer Souza broke off her pursuit of the runaway car.
Police say the Chevrolet continued its erratic path, passing cars in the breakdown lane and in the opposite lane of travel. At one point it swerved to avoid oncoming traffic crashed into the back of another car traveling south.
The damaged Chevrolet then continued south and eventually crossed over the northbound lane of travel and crashed into the guardrail on the east side of Route 88 approximately a half mile south of the first crash.
Westport officers said that when they arrived at the crash scene, the driver, identified as Paul Correia, 45, of 353 Grinnel St., Fall River, ignored their commands to get out of the car. They said that Mr. Correia resisted arrest and began fighting with and striking officers. Police then used a taser and eventually managed to remove him from the car and take him into custody. He was transported to Charlton Memorial Hospital by ambulance where he was evaluated, treated and released. After being booked at the Westport Police Station, bail was set at $1,000 cash and Mr. Correia was transported to the Bristol County House of Corrections.
Mr. Correia was charged with driving to endanger, operating at speeds greater than reasonable, marked lanes violation, failure to stop for red light and stop sign, failure to stop for police, leaving the scene of an accident with personal injury and property damage, resisting arrest, and four counts of assaulting a police officer.
The operator of the vehicle the Mr. Correia struck was transported to the hospital for treatment.