Chicopee man arraigned from hospital following fiery crash on I-91

By EMILY CUTTS

@ecutts_HG

Published: 07-13-2017 10:11 PM

A Chicopee man alleged to have led police on a chase that ended in a fiery crash was arraigned from his hospital room Thursday.

Darryl Whitaker, 54, pleaded not guilty at Baystate Medical Center in Springfield to charges of reckless operation of a motor vehicle, failing to stop for police, marked lane and speeding violations, according to the Northwestern district attorney’s office.

His bail was set at $50,000.

Whitaker is accused of fleeing Massachusetts State Police at high speed on Interstate 91 north after troopers attempted to stop him for prior warrants and motor vehicle violations at around 2:40 a.m. Wednesday.

Whitaker allegedly struck the truck of a 41-year-old contractor from Gill shortly after police popped his Mustang’s right-side tires with a tire deflation device where I-91 crosses over the Oxbow of the Connecticut River, according to State Police spokesman David Procopio.

The car also struck a construction sign which flew through the air and landed on a pursuing cruiser’s windshield. The trooper whose cruiser was struck by the sign was not injured though the vehicle sustained significant damage, according to Procopio.

The Gill contractor was taken to Cooley Dickinson Hospital in Northampton with what are believed to be minor injuries. Whitaker suffered serious injuries from the crash after his car burst into flames with him trapped him inside, according to Procopio. He was transported to Baystate after officers pulled him from the vehicle.

The crash initially lead to the closure of the interstate’s northbound lanes and exit 18, which reopened shortly before 6 a.m.

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Whitaker is scheduled to appear in Northampton District Court on Aug. 9.

Emily Cutts can be reached at ecutts@gazettenet.com.

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