EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

March 20, 2013

Stolen minivan chase ends with crash on Prospect Hill

Owner follows minivan after spotting it on road

By Jill Harmacinski
jharmacinski@eagletribune.com

---- — LAWRENCE — A “convoy of police cruisers” followed a stolen minivan that crashed into a Ferry Street yard and then flipped over into the church parking lot next door injuring two teenagers late Monday night.

Jeff Alvarez, 19, was driving the 1999 blue Dodge Caravan that slammed into a brick retaining wall and wooden fence at 43 Ferry St. just before midnight, police said.

A car in the driveway and the home “were spared by the suspect’s erratic driving,” Officer Ivan Melendez wrote in his lengthy report on the chase. The house is next to the Kingdom Hall of Jehovah Witnesses at 35 Ferry St.

Police started pursuing the stolen minivan on East Haverhill Street after the owner spotted Alvarez driving it just after 11 p.m., according to police. Several Lawrence patrolman, state troopers and an officer from the Essex County Sheriff’s Department also followed the car in the low-speed chase along Jackson, Berkeley, Prospect, Woodland streets and more.

“I looked in my rear view mirror and now saw a convoy of police cruisers,” Melendez wrote in his report.

Finally, after driving out of Pleasant onto Ferry street in the Prospect Hill neighborhood, police said Alvarez lost control of the minivan and blew through a stop sign. To avoid driving into the home and car, Alvarez jerked to the right and hit the retaining wall and fence instead, police said.

“With a slew of officers and troopers, we witnessed the stolen Dodge Caravan flip into the air after striking the retaining wall and wooden fence. The stolen vehicle then landed on its roof and slid approximately 5 feet into the parking lot of the Kingdom Hall church,” Melendez wrote. The officer said he saw the minivan windows “explode” and Alvarez crawl out from the wreckage.

Alvarez, of 3 Woodland St., #13, Lawrence, was cited for receiving stolen property, malicious damage over $250, resisting arrest, driving to endanger, failure to stop for a police officer and two stop sign violations.

His passenger, Carlos Mora, 18, of 61 Knox St., #1, Lawrence, was cited for receiving stolen property, assault and battery on a police officer and resisting arrest.

Both were taken to Lawrence General Hospital for treatment of injuries they suffered in the crash and also when they resisted arrest from police, Melendez said.

Alvarez at first denied knowing the car was stolen but later admitted he did. And, when interviewed by police, Mora started crying and said he was “the last of five young men to be picked up in the stolen car,” Melendez wrote.

Mora said the men were “joy riding” and became suspicious when a white Kia started following them. The minivan owner was driving the white Kia, according to police. Other men in the car asked to be dropped off after the Kia was spotted, Mora said.

Mora was also involved in another recent crash on Prospect Hill. In that crash, at Ferry and Lesley streets, Mora suffered fractures to his neck and spine, Melendez said.

Follow staff reporter Jill Harmacinski on Twitter under the screenname EagleTribJill.