By John Nickerson
STAMFORD-A Bridgeport man that led police on a 20-mile chase to the New York state line while ramming police cars and injuring four police officers nearly a year ago was returned to Connecticut Tuesday and arrested.
Manuel Vidal, 39, of 80 Oak St., Bridgeport, was charged by Stamford police with engaging police in pursuit, reckless driving, leaving the scene of an accident, first-degree reckless endangerment, resisting arrest and six counts of assault on a police officer. He is being held in lieu of a $150,000 bond.
Vidal was arraigned on the charges Wednesday at the Stamford courthouse. State police will also be filing charges against Vidal, Sgt. Sean McGowan said.
On March 22, 2013 Stamford police were called by state police to help them catch an erratic driver in a blue Geo Prism with New York plates heading southbound on Interstate-95 as the man drove through Stamford at 3:59 p.m., McGowan said.
Police saw the man drive by Exit 7 on the heavily congested highway in the breakdown lane, forcing cars on the onramp to take evasive action in order to avoid an accident, McGowan said.
Stamford police cars followed at a distance in order to keep their eye on the car after state police broke off the pursuit, worried that a chase would cause more damage.
When a police car pulled up beside Vidal’s car at Exit 6 to see if any hostages were in the car or others were in distress, the Prism dove into the lane behind the cruiser and rammed it from behind.
During the low speed chase to the New York border, Vidal struck that car and others that had begun to chase it, McGowan said.
At Exit 5 State Police officers threw out stop sticks, with blew out the car’s front tires, but the car kept going.
Between exit 5 and exit 4, the suspect’s car rammed a second Stamford police cruiser as many as three times. Stamford officers maintained the pursuit with a state police trooper joining in at exit 2.
When the Prism crossed the state line, a New York state trooper was waiting and in the vicinity of Port Chester Vidal rammed the New York trooper’s vehicle, McGowan said.
Just before the New Rochelle toll, traffic began to tie up and while under an underpass the driver of the car tried to weave through traffic quickly moving from the far left lane to the right breakdown lane and ended up smashing into the rear of a New York state trooper.
That collision stopped the car and Vidal was taken into custody by New York authorities.