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Thomas Pitoniak of Southampton allegedly leads police on chase through eight communities

SOUTHAMPTON — A 23-year-old Southampton man faces multiple charges after he allegedly led police in eight communities on a 33-minute chase that ended in Southampton early Wednesday morning.

Thomas J. Pitoniak of 2 Karen Lane was arrested by Easthampton, Southampton and state police on Route 10 near the Southampton Country Club when he pulled over after refusing to stop for police in South Hadley, Granby, Belchertown, Amherst, Hadley, Northampton, Easthampton and Southampton, according to Easthampton Police Sgt. William Kelly.

Kelly said Pitoniak was turned over to South Hadley police, who arrested and booked him because the chase began there at 11:30 p.m.

Pitoniak was scheduled to be arraigned in Eastern Hampshire District Court Wednesday afternoon on charges of failing to stop for police, negligent operation of a motor vehicle, operating a motor vehicle with a suspended license, operating a motor vehicle with suspended registration, operating an unregistered motor vehicle, operating an uninsured motor vehicle, speeding, violating marked lanes, and two counts of failing to yield.

He will also be summoned to Northampton District Court to face seven charges filed by Easthampton police, all of which are duplicates of some of the charges filed by South Hadley police.

South Hadley Police Lt. Steven Parentella described Pitoniak’s route, which was just over 35 miles long and — according to Google maps — would take about 70 minutes to travel at the posted speed limit. Parentella said he would not characterize the chase as high-speed, but that Pitoniak at times drove above the posted speed limit.

Kelly said that Pitoniak was traveling between 30 and 45 mph while he was being pursued by Easthampton police.

Parentella said officers observed Pitoniak’s car crossing the center line as it turned onto Main Street from the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Bridge on Route 116.

When a computer check revealed that Pitoniak’s license and registration were revoked, an officer attempted to pull him over. Pitoniak allegedly failed to stop and took North Main Street and Granby Road into Granby. From there, his route allegedly took him into Belchertown and on Bay Road through Amherst and Hadley and then onto Route 9 into Northampton where he traveled on Damon Road, Prospect Street, Bridge Road and other streets as police gave chase. As he allegedly drove on Florence Road into Easthampton, Northampton police alerted their Easthampton counterparts that they were pursuing Pitoniak’s vehicle and it was headed downtown.

In response, Kelly said Easthampton officers put out spike strips on Main Street by the rotary. “It blew out his tires but he kept going,” Kelly said.

Pitoniak continued driving his vehicle on its rims into Southampton, where he allegedly went through a fence near King Oak Farm before continuing up Route 10 toward Westfield. He stopped about 1.3 miles from the Westfield line, where he was taken into custody by Easthampton police at 12:03 a.m.

Pitoniak’s previous record includes an 18-month jail sentence in March 2009 after he pleaded guilty to seven counts of receiving stolen property over $250 and two counts of receiving stolen property under $250. He received an earlier jail sentence in July 2008 after pleading guilty to charges of assault with a dangerous weapon (baseball bat), intimidating a witness, felony nighttime breaking and entering, malicious destruction of property over $250 and larceny under $250.

Rebecca Everett can be reached at reverett@gazettenet.com.

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