By Jill Harmacinski
---- — LAWRENCE — A 22-year-old local man is charged with leading police on a 21-mile car chase that ended in a residential neighborhood in Lawrence as children were waiting for school buses yesterday morning.
Troopers finally used stop sticks to puncture the tires of a Mercedes Benz rental car Juan Delacruz was driving after he allegedly struck State Trooper Matthew Topping who pulled him over earlier on Route 93 north in Woburn.
After the stop, Delacruz sped away and at speeds between 60 and 100 mph, led troopers and local police officers on a chase through Stoneham, Reading, North Reading, Andover and into Lawrence, police said.
Running on three tires and just a rim, Delacruz continued to evade police before he was blocked in and captured by state police and local officers on Willow Street, according to court papers.
Delacruz, of 10 Monmouth St., was held on $50,000 cash bail after his Lawrence District Court arraignment on charges of failure to stop for police, negligent operation of a motor vehicle, marked lanes violation, speeding, driving after license suspension and use of a motor vehicle without authority.
Judge Michael Brooks also revoked Delacruz’s bail in a pending criminal case for illegal possession of marijuana with intent to distribute. Delacruz will also be facing assault and battery charges in Woburn District Court for the alleged assault on Topping.
His passenger in the Mercedes, Rudy Arias-Almonte, 24, of 224 Water St., Lawrence was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct. He was released on personal recognizance after his arraignment yesterday.
In court yesterday, Delacruz kept his head down and hid behind defense attorney Joanne McLaughlin. Delacruz, who is unemployed, recently underwent gall bladder surgery, is still bandaged and has a bag that requires medical attention, she said.
Early yesterday morning, he had just dropped off a friend in Roslindale and was heading home on Route 93 north when the trooper approached him, “screamed” at him and told him to pull over his car in the high speed lane, she said.
Delacruz, she said, has “been in pain for quite some time” and “stated he shouldn’t have left the scene.” He doesn’t recall hitting the officer and said it happened “during a moment he became frightened,” she said.
In his report, Topping said after he walked up to Delacruz on the driver’s side of the car, “he stepped on the accelerator and turned the steering wheel to the left, causing the driver/rear door to strike me, spinning me around.”
Delacruz sped away on 93 north, exited onto 95 north and then onto Route 28 southbound in Stoneham. At the first set of lights, he made a U-turn, ran a red light and then drove north on Route 28, Topping said.
He continued on Route 28, running through Stoneham, Reading and North Reading. At the intersection of Routes 28 and 62, another trooper tried to get Delacruz to stop by blocking the road. Delacruz, however, never made any attempt to stop and the trooper allowed the Mercedes to pass.
Police then lost contact with Delacruz for roughly 40 minutes until Andover police spotted the Mercedes on Route 28 in that town. At the intersection of Route 28 and Interstate 495, a state police sergeant threw out stop sticks in front right tire on the Mercedes. “The pursuit then continued into the city of Lawrence where Delacruz began going up and down side streets and residential neighborhoods on three tires and a rim,” Topping wrote.
Police finally blocked him on Willow Street.
The Mercedes is owned at Thrifty Car Rental at 273 South Union St. The man who rented the car said he loaned it to a woman that knows Delacruz and Arias-Almonte.
Both are due back in court on Feb. 27.
Follow staff reporter Jill Harmacinski on Twitter under the screenname EagleTribJill.