Man ODs After Leading Police On Car Chase

By Jano Tantongco

jtantongco@longislandergroup.com

James Hodge Photo/Northport Police Department

James Hodge Photo/Northport Police Department

A Brentwood man led Northport police on a slow-speed car chase through East Northport late Saturday night before overdosing, requiring police to revive him with Narcan, authorities said.

Northport officers Matthew Bruckenthal and Stephen Kerekes attempted to pull over James Hodge, 43, at around 12 a.m. on Laurel Road for numerous traffic violations, including running a red light, unsafe lane changes and improper turns, according to Northport Police Chief Bill Ricca.

When the officers attempted to pull over the 1999 Mitsubishi, Hodge allegedly failed to stop. Instead, police said, he led them on a slow-speed chase through East Northport lasting approximately 10 minutes.

Two additional Northport police units joined the pursuit, along with “at least” two Suffolk County Police Department units joining in the chase.”

Ricca said police later learned that Hodge was “driving while impaired,” an offense that’s “not that uncommon.”

Although, “most of the time, they make the right choice to pull over,” Ricca said.

Instead, Hodge drove faster than 40 mph, Ricca said. Police attempted several times to box in Hodge’s vehicle, but he allegedly accelerated momentarily to evade them.

Ricca said police try to limit pursuits to “two cars… It’s not like what you see on TV.” He added that deploying too many cars, or using roadblocks, can push suspects toward making rash decisions and potentially injure civilians.

Eventually, Hodge came to a stop near the Northport Long Island Railroad Station, police said. Officers then removed him from his vehicle, but not without a struggle, according to police. Hodge allegedly injured officer Bruckenthal’s left thumb and officer Kerekes’ left shoulder as they attempted to detain him. Ricca called Hodge a “big guy.”

Police said they found Hodge to be in possession of a crack pipe.

Once Hodge was detained, he fell into an opiate overdose, which Ricca said was from heroin. Police revived Hodge with two doses of Narcan – a heroin overdose reversal drug that is administered through the nasal passages.

The East Northport Rescue Squad took Hodge to Huntington Hospital for evaluation.

On Saturday, he was taken back into police custody and arraigned Northport Village Court.

Hodge faces 15 total charges, including two counts of second-degree assault; driving while ability impaired by drugs; second-degree obstructing governmental administration; seventh-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance; and second-degree reckless endangerment.

Hodge is being held on $70,000 cash bail, or $140,000 bond. As of Tuesday, he had not made bail and was being held at the Riverhead Correctional Facility.