WOONSOCKET – A 33-year-old man suffered fatal injuries late Thursday night when the car in which he was fleeing police crashed into a tree at the corner of Grove and Blakeley streets.
The victim, identified in media reports as Anthony Lescarbeau of North Smithfield, was pinned in the wreckage of the red 1986 Ford Mustang GT and had to be extricated by rescue personnel using Jaws of Life equipment.
Woonsocket police said the victim was transported to Barry Field where he was loaded into an emergency helicopter for air evacuation to Rhode Island Hospital in Providence. He was declared dead at the hospital at 1:15 a.m., police said.
Capt. Edward Lee said the crash is being investigated by State Police and Rhode Island Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin's Office, and Lee referred questions to Kilmartin.
Lescarbeau was reported to have had a number of contacts with local police including driving violations and minor assaults.
Amy Kempe, Kilmartin's spokeswoman, said Friday that Woonsocket police had been conducting a motor vehicle stop at about 11:36 p.m. when the motorist involved fled the scene in a vehicle and crashed into a tree.
“He was airlifted to Rhode Island Hospital where he was later pronounced dead,” Kempe said.
Due to the fact that the victim had been stopped by police officers prior to the accident, Rhode Island State Police and Kilmartin's office stepped in to conduct the investigation as is routinely done in such cases, she said. Due to the ongoing investigation, Kempe declined to officially identify the victim on Friday beyond saying he was a 33-year-old man from the Blackstone Valley.
State Police were out on Grove and Blakeley streets Friday afternoon taking measurements of the accident scene and talking to neighbors in nearby apartments.
The Mustang left a long patch of skid marks as it traveled down the slope from Grove toward the intersection with Blakeley, near the Red Mill Lofts. The pine tree struck by the skidding car shows gouge marks from the impact and tire ruts nearby that were left by the wrecked vehicle.
A small memorial to Lescarbeau, including candles, a stuffed animal and flowers, had already been set up for the victim at the base of the tree.
Katelyn Goodwin, 25, a resident of an apartment building near the accident scene, said she had been away when the accident occurred Thursday night and returned to find rescue vehicles and police engaged in clearing the scene upon her return.
Earlier Friday, Goodwin said she met a woman putting up the memorial near the tree.
“She said it was her husband who had been killed,” the neighbor said.
“It makes you think about your life and what can happen,” Goodwin said of the tragedy.