Fall River man arrested after wild pursuit, crash into NSPD cruiser


WOONSOCKET – A serial car thief from Massachusetts led city and North Smithfield police on a wild pursuit that began when a stolen Mercedes with New Hampshire plates was spotted outside a strip club on Front Street on Sunday, March 10, police say.

William Fellows, 49, of Fall River, Mass. was eventually arrested after he crashed the vehicle into a North Smithfield police cruiser on Iron Mine Hill Road and his car got stuck in a muddy ditch. At this point, local police had a rifle trained on him, they say, but he was still trying to put the Mercedes in gear until North Smithfield police Sgt. John Babineau jumped onto the roof of the Mercedes to smash a window and officers were able to wrestle Fellows from car to get handcuffs on him – after a struggle.

He was initially taken to Landmark Medical Center after complaining of head and neck pain.

Fellows is facing charges of possession of a stolen motor vehicle, eluding police in a high-speed pursuit, obstructing, resisting arrest and driving on a suspended license.

According to police reports, Officer Stephen Burrell tracked down the 2005 Mercedes in the parking lot of Rhode Island Dolls, a strip club located at 579 Front St. in Woonsocket, after members of the night platoon received an alert that the vehicle had been flagged as it passed a Flock security camera. A network of the plate-reading cameras has been established in the city for about two years.

Sometime later, at about 5:30 p.m., officers tried to stop the vehicle on Park Avenue, but Fellows refused to pull over, police say.

Instead, he led police on a chase into Park Square and proceeded southbound on Eddie Dowling Highway at speeds up to 100 mph through an obstacle-laden construction zone. When he reached a section of the highway just north of Iron Mine Hill Road that is littered with orange barrels, Fellows struck several of them, sending the plastic cylinders careening into the travel lanes. City police officers operating at least two cruisers in pursuit of Fellows say their vehicles were struck by the barrels, without causing much damage.

Fellows took a right onto Iron Mine Hill Road, which was around the time multiple North Smithfield police cruisers joined the pursuit. 

Fellows then turned onto Valley View Drive, a road that ends in a cul de sac. When he reached the last house on the street, he drove onto the property and began driving in a circle around the dwelling, tearing up mud and ruts in the lawn and swerving dangerously out of control, police reports say. At this time, Babineau was on foot and had to dodge the oncoming Mercedes to avoid being struck.

The Mercedes was throwing so much mud around that Burrell was forced to exit his cruiser briefly to clear it from the windshield of his cruiser.

Somehow, Fellows managed to get the Mercedes out of the Valley View Drive property and back onto Iron Mine Hill Road, but he didn’t get far. About a half-mile away, he lost control of the Mercedes and crashed into Babineau’s cruiser. 

After an appearance in Sixth District Court on Monday, a judge set bail for Fellows at $10,000 with surety, but he was not immediately able to post the necessary sum and was remanded to the Adult Correctional Institutions, court records say.

The charges from Sunday’s encounter with police represent his only arrest in Rhode Island on the judiciary’s web site, but the National Criminal Information Center indicates he has 11 previous charges out of Massachusetts for possession, theft or operation of a stolen motor vehicle, according to Burrell’s report.

Follow Russ Olivo on Twitter @russolivo

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