Wednesday May 1, 2013

KEITH WHITCOMB JR.

Staff Writer

BENNINGTON -- A Connecticut man is facing charges after police said he nearly collided with two officers at a snowmobile safety checkpoint and spent hours hiding from police.

Alan W. Lafountaine Jr., 41, of Suffield, pleaded not guilty Monday in Bennington Superior Court Criminal Division to misdemeanor counts of reckless endangerment, reckless operation of a snowmobile, and attempting to elude police on a snowmobile. He was released on conditions that he attend future court hearings.

According to an affidavit by Game Warden John G. Eckhardt II, on March 16 he, Game Warden Kelly Price, and Vermont State Police Captain Don Patch were staffing a snowmobile safety checkpoint on the Vermont Association of Snow Travelers trail in Winhall. At 10 a.m. a snowmobile stopped at the checkpoint while one traveling behind it drove around and sped away, coming within in three feet of Eckhardt and almost hitting Patch, who was farther down the trail.

Eckhardt wrote that all three officers were wearing clothes signifying they were police, plus there was a snowmobile from the Winhall Police Department parked nearby with its blue lights flashing.

The driver of the first snowmobile identified the person who fled as Lafountaine. They had come to Vermont together in a truck with their snowmobiles in a trailer which was parked near the airport in Somerset.

Police did not locate Lafountaine right away but at approximately 2 p.m. he turned himself in near the area where he and the other man had parked.

Lafountaine said he fled when saw police because his snowmobile is uninsured and he feared getting a ticket because his financial situation is tight. He told police he had been hiding in the woods and decided to turn himself in when he heard a helicopter which he thought was searching for him.

Contact Keith Whitcomb Jr. at kwhitcomb@benningtonbanner.com or follow him on Twitter @KWhitcombjr.