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Police officer escapes teenage hit/run with minor injuries
December 9, 2004

By Ezra Blair

A Tisbury police officer, responding to a call of suspicious activity, received minor injuries after a teenager allegedly tried to run him down with a car Sunday night.

Three Tisbury teens have been arrested in connection with the incident, including Dylan Osleeb, 18, the driver, who has been charged with assault and battery by means of a dangerous weapon and assault and battery on a police officer, as well as other violations.

According to Ted Saulnier, Tisbury police chief, Officer Mark Santon responded to a call on Alyssa Lane, just before 11 pm Sunday. Chief Saulnier said that Tisbury police had received a report of a car parked in front of an unoccupied house that was under construction on the street. The car was facing out of the dead-end road, and its lights were turned off, he said.

When Officer Santon arrived on the scene he shone his flashlight on himself and his badge, to make clear that he was a police officer. As he approached the vehicle he saw three individuals inside and saw that they had seen him, according to his report.

As Officer Santon continued to approach, the driver of the car suddenly started the vehicle's engine. Officer Santon ordered the driver to shut it off, but the teenager ignored him. Moments later, according to Chief Saulnier, the driver put the car in gear, and accelerated quickly toward Officer Santon. Chief Saulnier said the driver accelerated hard enough to spin the front wheels of the car.

Officer Santon was able to jump onto the hood of the car and avoid being run over. Chief Saulnier said that the car struck Officer Santon in the lower leg, and that he was thrown across the hood and onto the ground. Officer Santon continued to order the driver to stop, but the car quickly sped away.

Chief Saulnier said that Officer Santon was lucky to escape the attack without any serious injuries. "This is something that we just don't train for," he said.

Chief Saulnier commended Officer Stanton's quick thinking and swift response. "In a situation like that, the officer has to react very quickly, and fortunately Officer Santon averted some very serious, potentially life-threatening injuries by his quick reflexes. This easily could have been a real tragedy," he said.

Yesterday afternoon, Officer Santon played down his role, calling the incident "small potatoes. It certainly could have been a lot worse."

As the suspects sped away, leaving Officer Santon on the side of the road, another police officer on the scene blocked the street with his cruiser. As the suspects approached the officer, the driver suddenly leapt from the moving vehicle and fled on foot. With no one behind the wheel, the out of control car veered over the shoulder, down an embankment and into an oak tree. According to Chief Saulnier, the passenger in the front seat quickly got out of car and fled the scene immediately following the crash.

A second passenger, in the back seat remained in the car, and was arrested. Because the teenager is just 15 years old, police would not release his name. He was charged with unauthorized used of motor vehicle and possession of class D substance, after police found that he was carrying a small amount of marijuana, according to Chief Saulnier.

The passenger who fled the scene after the crash was the next to be apprehended. According to Chief Saulnier, David Mercaldo, 17, of Tisbury was arrested after he called a taxi for a ride. The taxi company notified police that they had received a suspicious call, and after the taxi picked Mr. Mercaldo up on West Spring Street, a police officer pulled the taxi over and arrested Mr. Mercaldo. He was charged with unauthorized use of a motor vehicle, and possession of a class D substance with intent to distribute, after police found him with eight individually wrapped baggies of marijuana, according to Chief Saulnier.

Unable to find the driver of the vehicle, who was identified as Mr. Osleeb, police obtained a warrant for his arrest.

A day later, on Monday night, Mr. Osleeb turned himself in to the State Police. He was charged with assault and battery by means of a dangerous weapon, assault and battery on a police officer, unauthorized use of a motor vehicle, operating a motor vehicle as to endanger, failure to stop for a police officer, and malicious destruction of property worth more than $250.

It is the second time this year that Mr. Osleeb has faced charges on the Island. In March, he was arrested for his alleged involvement with a burglary from the Airport Mobile station. In that incident he was charged with larceny of a motor vehicle, trespassing, malicious destruction of property, breaking and entering at night, larceny from a building, larceny over $250, possession of burglarious instruments, breaking and entering into a depository, conspiracy, possession of class D substance (marijuana) with intent to distribute, and receiving stolen property over $250.

These kids are off to a great start. Luckily Officer Santon is OK. Good work.
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