EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

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December 18, 2013

Snow grinds traffic to a halt -- except for ATV joy riders

LAWRENCE — A Lawrence police officer out on patrol at about 9 o’clock last night described the road conditions as “too terrible to be driving” — except for the ATVs, whose drivers were brazen as they made numerous illegal recreational rides on the city’s snow-covered major roads.

“They’ve been wreaking havoc all night and nobody can catch them,” the officer said.

Shortly before 10 p.m., another officer reported three ATVs driving over the Falls Bridge on Broadway, one of them with a snow plow attached to it. Police were unable to catch up with them to make the arrests.

Late last night, Lawrence police finally caught one of the ATV riders after he lost control and drove into a snow bank on Hancock Street.

Lawrence police overheard on the police radio said they planned to charge the ATV rider with driving without a license and driving to endanger among several criminal charges.

It is a rarity when ATV riders get caught driving on public roadways because their vehicles can usually outrun the police, except when they crash into snowbanks as was the case last night.

At press time, The Eagle-Tribune learned that police discovered five other ATV vehicles at 113 Hancock St., near the arrest scene. Police believe all of the vehicles they spotted during the evening came from this address.

Most legal traffic had it tough, though, trying to make their way home last night, especially during the evening rush hour. Yesterday’s storm, which began at around noon and continued late into the evening, dropped six to eight inches of snow across the Merrimack Valley and southern New Hampshire.

Massachusetts State Secretary William Galvin, who is serving as acting governor while Gov. Deval Patrick is on a trade mission in Asia, sent all non-essential state workers home early yesterday as the snowstorm began gaining intensity. Galvin urged private employers in the greater Boston area to let their employees leave early too.

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