LYNN —Â A judge set $3,000 bail and noted a New Hampshire teen was “certainly a flight risk” after a prosecutor said the youth was high on acid and driving a car with no tires when he led officers on a chase and then swerved into another car in Saugus.
“He told the officer that he had done some acid and repeatedly asked the officer if thatÂ
made any sense to him,” Assistant District Attorney Doug Sheehan said in Lynn District Court Monday. “He began yelling about Jesus ”¦ He could have killed or seriously injured any number of drivers on the road, he was self-admittedly high at the time, driving on the rims of a car. This is completely out of control.”
Michael Welch, 18, of 9 Beacon Hill Road, Derry, N.H., was arrested and charged with disturbing the peace; assault with a dangerous weapon; negligent operation of a motor vehicle; operating under the influence of drugs; failure to stop for police; resisting arrest; assault and battery with a dangerous weapon; and speeding in violation of special regulations; at 1:12 a.m. Monday.
A plea of not guilty was entered on Welch’s behalf at his arraignment in Lynn District Court later that day.
Sheehan said Saugus Police received a report early Monday morning of a minivan with no wheels driving northbound on Route 1 South. Witnesses said the car was not only sparking from the rims but was also honking and making a lot of noise as it proceeded down the highway. Police then spotted the car on Longwood Avenue where it swerved, Sheehan reported. He told the court a cruiser traveling in the opposite direction as the suspect vehicle tried to get it to stop but the suspect vehicle swerved into the officer’s lane of travel, nearly hitting the cruiser.
Sheehan said witnesses estimated the car was going 60 miles per hour and reported it was zig-zagging across the road.
In the area of 43 Main St. the car suddenly swerved into an oncoming vehicle “as if intending to cause a head-on collision,” Sheehan said. He said the officer following the van noted that vehicle’s brake lights never came on prior to the accident. The driver of the other vehicle was taken to the hospital, according to police. The driver of the minivan, identified as Welch, refused to get out of his vehicle, Sheehan said.
Officers eventually pulled Welch out of the driver’s side window and it took three officers to make the arrest, Sheehan reported. Officers reported Welch continued to be uncooperative.
“Throughout the transport, Michael Welch was exclaiming that he was Jesus and was screaming obscenities at me,” Saugus Police Officer Emir Saric reported. “Michael called the officers present (expletive)s and told all of us to go (expletive) ourselves. He refused to be booked.”
Photos of the minivan show it missing at least one tire, according to court documents.
Sheehan acknowledged Welch had no criminal record, but prosecutionrequested $5,000 cash bail, and that Welch not drive and remain drug and alcohol free.
Court-appointed attorney Nick Morris disputed the assault charges, saying police accounts of Welch’s behavior “undercuts” the argument that Welch consciously tried to assault officers.
“He’s yelling about Jesus, yelling obscenities, he’s clearly in another mind,” Morris said. He requested personal recognizance as appropriate for a person with his or her first offense for impaired driving.
Judge Ellen Flatley noted Welch’s New Hampshire address and the case in remarking he was “certainly a flight risk.” She ordered $3,000 bail and ordered Welch to return to court Aug. 21.
Welch’s father declined to comment outside the courthouse.