The driver of a car that was rear-ended in a crash that ended a high-speed chase Friday on the Maine Turnpike said Saturday that he confronted the man police had been chasing.

Joseph Luetje of Portland said he, his wife, Melissa, and their two young children saw the suspect, Timothy Williams, while they were at York Hospital, where Melissa was treated for a concussion and Joseph Luetje was treated for a wrist injury.

“We went by just to say, ‘Look who you almost killed,'” Luetje said Saturday. “He said, ‘Well, I’m sorry.'”

Kittery police, who were chasing Williams after they said they spotted him speeding on the Route 1 Bypass, said Williams was charged with eluding a police officer, a felony, and is being held at the York County Jail on $5,000 cash bail. Police are also investigating other possible charges against the 39-year-old, they said, including aggravated operating under the influence, operating after suspension and criminal speeding.

Police said they are also looking at whether the chase, which hit speeds of more than 80 mph, complied with Kittery’s policy, which follows a model high-speed chase policy drafted by the Maine Chiefs of Police Association.

Luetje said he already knows the answer to that question.

“Is it worth it? A high-speed chase on the highway?” he said. “Not in this case.”

The policy calls for officers to consider a variety of factors in deciding whether to engage in a chase, including the seriousness of the crime a person is suspected of; where the chase will take place; road, weather and traffic conditions; and an overall balance of the danger posed to the public by a chase versus a suspect’s possible escape.

Kittery police declined on Saturday to comment beyond a one-page release recounting the incident. They said further questions would be referred to Police Chief Ed Strong on Monday.

The Kittery news release did not mention any injuries to Williams, but a photo released by the department shows some bumps and bruises on his face and he is wearing a neck brace.

Police said Williams slowed down when they tried to stop him as he got on the turnpike northbound. Then he sped up and began changing lanes rapidly, trying to outrun police. He sideswiped one car about six miles north of the York tollbooth, then hit the rear of the Luetjes’ car, sending both cars skidding out of control.

Joseph Luetje, 37, said his recollection of events is kind of hazy, but he remembers his car hitting the center guardrail, skidding back onto the highway where it hit the trailer of a semi, and then stopping on the left shoulder of the road.

“It was pretty violent and shocking,” he said. “It was just a sudden impact from the rear and then it gets kind of hazy. I first looked over to my wife, my kids were screaming, my wife was kind of in shock but she seemed OK. It’s all kind of blurry at that point. I lost my glasses so I couldn’t see anything.”

Luetje said Melissa, 39, wasn’t visibly injured, so he got out of his seat to get the couple’s two children, Genevieve, who is 3 months old, and Jillian, 2 1/2, from the car. They were in car seats and unhurt, he said, and the car’s air bags had deployed.

Luetje said other drivers stopped to help. One, a nurse, tended to Melissa, he said, while others helped him with his kids. Some others helped him find his glasses, Luetje said. Then they were taken to the hospital, with Melissa Luetje in one ambulance and Joseph Luetje and the girls in another.

Jillian, he said, seemed a little bit confused about the role of the doctors at the hospital.

“She was trying to tell us the doctors were going to fix the car,” Joseph Luetje said.

He said everyone was still shaken up Saturday, but were doing fairly well, considering the severity of the crash. Luetje said he has a splint for his wrist, which he thinks is just sprained, and his wife has been told to take painkillers and rest for the next few days.

No one with Kittery police or state police could be reached to discuss Williams’ criminal background Saturday evening.

A 39-year-old man named Timothy Jereo Williams was convicted on a drug trafficking charge in 2003 and sentenced to three years in prison, with all but one year suspended, and two years of probation, according to records from the Maine State Bureau of Identification. Kittery police provided the driver’s middle name as “Jerel” and state police provided a date of birth for the driver that matched the one for the Timothy Williams convicted for drug trafficking.

— Staff Writer Ann S. Kim contributed to this story.

Staff Writer Edward D. Murphy can be contacted at 791-6465 or at:

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