Two Fall River men face charges after allegedly fleeing from Somerset Police and crashing their vehicle on Rt. 79 in Fall River – and one of the suspects reportedly managed to run and evade detection for hours.

According to a release from Somerset Police, officers at around 1:20 p.m. on Sunday responded to Somerset Creamery at 146 County Street for a report of two men parked in a 2001 Chevy Blazer and acting suspiciously. Officers spoke with the two men – later identified as Kevin Ploude, 33, and Scott Hazel, 36 – and reportedly sent them on their way after asking about their rear license plate, which was reportedly not attached, but in the back seat.

Police say as the vehicle left the parking lot, the officers ran a check and learned that Ploude, who was behind the wheel, had a suspended license. The officers stopped the vehicle at the on-ramp to the Veteran’s Memorial Bridge.  An officer who approached the vehicle says that he spotted Ploude holding a handgun. As the officer approached, Ploude allegedly took off, speeding south on Davol Street into Fall River.

Officers pursued the vehicle but say they terminated the pursuit when Ploude allegedly reached speeds of over 80 miles per hour and drove through a red light at the intersection of President Avenue and Davol Street.

Police say they continued down Davol Street at a normal rate of speed and noticed a group of people yelling for help near the Cove Restaurant and Marina near Battleship Cove. They said Ploude had lost control of the vehicle, causing it to roll over and come to rest in the middle of the road.

Ploude and Hazel then fled from the vehicle on foot, according to Somerset Police. Video later obtained in the investigation showed Ploude running from the vehicle, then turning back to retrieve a handgun on the ground before fleeing again, according to police.

A witness told police that Ploude had jumped off the boardwalk and into the Taunton River. Officers say they discovered fresh footprints leading down a tunnel underneath the boardwalk that had a sewer pipe opening. Somerset Police K9 Officer Jared Linhares and his partner Viepo checked the area with the assistance of the Fall River Harbor Master and a Fall River Fire Department boat, but were unable to locate Ploude or a firearm.

At approximately 6 p.m. that same night, a Fall River Police officer was approached by a person near the boardwalk who said that a person matching Ploude's description was walking nearby and was very wet. Ploude was located by officers and fled again before being taken into custody following a foot pursuit. He was brought to a local hospital to be treated for non-life threatening injuries.

After his release he was taken to the Somerset Police station to be booked, but allegedly "declined to take part in the booking process." Ploude was expected to be arraigned today at Fall River District Court and Hazel was set to be arraigned at a later date.

As for Hazel, police say he was found walking on Route 79 a short time after the crash and taken into custody without incident by the Somerset and Fall River police departments. Hazel was brought to a local hospital to be evaluated and treated for injuries sustained during the crash. The injuries are not believed to be life-threatening.

The vehicle was towed from the scene and several items believed to have been stolen from local businesses were found inside, police said. There is no indication in the press release from Somerset Police that a handgun was recovered.

Ploude was arrested and charged with assault by firearm, failure to stop for police, negligent operation of a motor vehilce, receiving stolen property, and operating a motor vehicle with a suspended license. Hazel was issued a summons to appear on a single charge of receiving stolen property.

Somerset Police Chief George McNeil said he would like to commend his officers and thank the Fall River Police Department for their assistance in the investigation.

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