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Akwesasne man jailed after nearly striking U.S. Customs officer when crossing border

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MASSENA - A Cornwall Island man faces a host of charges stemming from an incident shortly before 2:25 a.m. Sunday when he led police on a 15-mile pursuit in the towns of Massena and Bombay, including brief unsuccessful effort to cross back into Canada at the U.S. port of entry, where he nearly struck a U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer.

Massena-based state police charged Colin A. Hall, 27, of 555 Island Road, Akwesasne, Ont., with felony counts of driving while intoxicated - conviction within past 10 years and first-degree aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle when he was taken into custody approximately a half hour later on Tarbell Road in the town of Bombay.

His operating privileges had been revoked following a Feb. 28, 2012 conviction from St. Lawrence County Court for aggravated driving while intoxicated.

Troopers said during the pursuit, which reached speeds up to 90 mph, Hall attempted to flee north into Canada when he nearly struck a custom’s and border protection officer with his vehicle.

Officer Dawn Bigwarfe said she was working at the port of entry when she observed a pickup truck on Route 37 travelling at a high rate of speed and being pursued by a state police vehicle. She said the truck then turned north on to the international bridge road from Route 37.

She said a northbound inspection was being employed to prevent the truck’s operator from entering Canada without an inspection. She said a vehicle was stopped in the lane 7 booth at the time of the incident.

Ms. Bigwarfe, in her statement, said the truck was still travelling at a high rate of speed, and the operator had to lock up his brakes to stop from hitting the truck stopped at the booth.

“The pickup truck then sped up again and proceeded around the northbound lane fence and headed directly at me. I immediately looked for the nearest cover to avoid being struck by the vehicle at this point,” Ms. Bigwarfe added, noting the truck then went back up the southbound lane headed back toward Route 37.

Hall was additionally charged with misdemeanor counts of reckless driving, second-degree reckless endangerment, second-degree fleeing a police officer in a motor vehicle and circumvention of a requirement he use an ignition interlock device on any vehicle he is operating following a drinking and driving conviction.

Massena-based state police also ticketed Hall for speeding, failure to keep right, failure to use designated lane and a red light violation.

Police said he authories used a spike strip to try to stop him, but he allegedly continued east on Route 37 into Bombay while driving on flat tires. Troopers said his vehicle came to a stop in a snowbank on Tarbell Road in Bombay when he failed to complete a turn.

Mr. Hall, who refused a breath test, has had a previous DWI conviction in the last 10 years.

He was arraigned by Massena Town Justice Gerald P. Sharlow and sent to the St. Lawrence County Correctional Facility with bail set at $10,000 cash or $20,000 bond.

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