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Perplexed and pursued
Kevin P. O'Connor 12/02/2004

CENTRAL FALLS -- The next time you get badly lost in an unfamiliar city, remember Rene Rivera and take comfort.

He got lost in Central Falls Tuesday while he was driving a stolen car, trying to outrun the cops who were chasing him, police say.

The streets of the Square Mile City won.

Rivera, 20, of Fitchberg, Mass., is in the ACI, charged with possession of a stolen car and being a fugitive from Massachusetts, where he is wanted on a breaking and entering charge.

The straight lines and clear direction of prison must seem a relief to Rivera, who spent 20 minutes driving in circles on the city's side streets, attracting more police attention with each wrong turn.

Officer Christopher Reed reports he was in his cruiser at Perry and Cowden streets at 2:20 p.m., helping supervise the dismissal of school, when he saw a 1995 Mazda minivan blow through the stop sign.

Reed pulled up behind the van, lights flashing and siren wailing. The van stopped.

"As I approached the van, he turned his radio way up and took off," Reed said. "I pursued him. It wasn't a high speed chase. He just kept driving in circles on the side streets."

Rivera, police allege, drove to Broad Street but found the traffic tangled -- even as he drove up the middle of the street, forcing other cars off the road. He turned up Chestnut Street and made several loops in the narrow side streets between Washington Street and Broad Street. He went back to Broad Street and turned onto Sylvian Street, where Detective Wayne Solan was waiting, his car blocking the street.

Reed was following the mini-van Rivera drove the entire time, broadcasting the chase. He also called in the registration on the van, which turned out to be stolen, the property of Constance Tape of Leominster, Mass.

With Sylvian Street blocked, Rivera stopped the van, jumped out and ran, police allege.

His luck did not change.

Solan gave chase. An off-duty ACI correctional officer saw the footchase and ran with Solan. Solan jumped out of his car without his radio, so when Rivera ran into a backyard on Sylvian Street, Solan chased him and the correctional officer stayed on the street, directing the arriving police officers into the yard.

Rivera ran to the rear of the yard on Sylvian Street and began to jump a stockade fence, but hesitated when he saw Reed and Officer Daniel Barzykowski on the other side, police say. Solan tackled Rivera and, after a short struggle, Rivera was arrested, police report.

He was charged with possession of a stolen car, resisting arrest, reckless driving, driving on an expired license and with a host of traffic charges. His bail was set at $10,000 surety on those charges. He is also being held on charges from Massachusetts.

The van was seized and the owner was notified it was found, police report.

Officers are still looking for the correctional officer, who left before police got his name.

"We appreciate his help," said Detective Sgt. Kevin Guindon. "We hope he calls because we would like to thank him."

Voicing appreciation and thanks is not on Rivera's to-do list, though.

"We spoke to him after his arrest," Guindon said. "He said he couldn't figure out the streets, that he kept getting more lost.

"He said it was his first time and his last time in this city."

©The Pawtucket Times 2004
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