3 escapees arrested in South Portland after chase, crash

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SOUTH PORTLAND — Three escapees from Long Creek Youth Development Center were back in custody Friday after the stolen SUV they were riding in crashed while they were being chased by police.

Steve McCausland, Maine Department of Public Safety spokesman, said the three men escaped from the Stratton Brooks Huts in Carrabassett Valley early Friday morning, where they had been staying overnight with Long Creek staff.

Carrabassett Valley Police Chief Mark Lopez identified the men as Christopher Harmon, 18, of Sanford, who was serving time for burglary and reckless conduct; Jonathan Vasselian, 18, of Sumner, who was convicted of gross sexual assault, and James Ramsdell, 19, who was serving time for assault.

McCausland said Ramsdell was driving the stolen SUV.

Police said the three were charged with unauthorized use of property and were taken to the Cumberland County Jail. Lopez said Carrabassett Valley police will seek charges of theft of the SUV and property from the hut.

Police said the Nissan SUV they were driving was stolen from a residence near the huts’ trail head early Friday morning.

McCausland said the SUV was spotted along Interstate 95 in Falmouth mid-morning Friday. Maine State Police attempted to stop the vehicle at the southbound Exit 45, but the vehicle sped off.

McCausland said state police performed a maneuver designed to force the SUV to stop. The vehicle overturned after it crashed into a snow bank at the Exit 45 park-and-ride lot.

Police said none of the three men where hurt and all were wearing seat belts.

Police recovered cash, wine and other items from the stolen vehicle.

Lopez told the Sun Journal in Lewiston his officers were unaware of the Long Creek program or that prisoners were brought to the area. He said it would have been nice to know in advance, but he appreciated Long Creek’s help and the provision of information about the youths Friday morning.

Melanie Sochan can be reached at 781-3661 ext.106 or msochan@theforecaster.net. Follow her on Twitter @melaniesochan.

Three men who escaped from Long Creek Youth Development Center allegedly crashed this stolen vehicle in South Portland after being chased by police.