By Alex Lippa
---- — HAVERHILL - A man fleeing police in a stolen minivan which struck another car, a pedestrian, and then a tree this morning has died, police said.
Police are not identifying the man who was killed, saying only he was in his 50s. The pedestrian was taken to an area hospital with what police say are "serious injuries." The driver of the other car which was struck in the accident was also taken to the hospital with "unknown injuries," police said.
The accident happened at 11 a.m. on North Avenue just outside the Walnut Square School. The area from North Avenue to Oxford Street remains closed to traffic as police continue to investigate.
Plaistow, N.H. Police had put out a "be on the lookout" message to area departments for a stolen Honda Odyssey used "during the commission of a crime" about 9:15 a.m. this morning. About an hour later, Haverhill Police were called to a variety store for a report of a theft involving the man and the vehicle matching the description given in the Plaistow crime.
Just before 11 a.m., an on-duty Haverhill police officer spotted the suspect in the Honda and began to follow, with its blue lights and sirens on in an attempt to stop the vehicle. Police said the suspect sped away, heading northbound on Main Street.
According to police, the officer "pursued the suspect vehicle from a distance, and lost sight" of it. A short time later, a Haverhill police officer working a traffic detail on Main Street at 16th Avenue spotted the vehicle turn onto North Avenue at a "high rate of speed." The officer then head a "loud collision" and found that the suspect car had rear-ended another car and a pedestrian walking a dog had been struck. The Honda was into the tree and emergency workers had to use the Jaws of Life to free him from the car.
Police said he was taken to an area hospital where he was pronounced dead a short time later.
The man who died was also suspected of leaving a Haverhill restaurant last night without paying the bill, police said.
The accident is being investigated by the Haverhill Police Department Traffic and Safety Unit and the Massachusetts State Police Reconstruction team.