This has been updated with new information from police at the bottom of the story
NORWICH - Police are trying to figure out why a Lebanon man drove into the Connecticut River within sight of the Ledyard Bridge and then left the scene on foot early Thursday evening.
Norwich and Hanover police officers quickly caught up to the man as he was walking on a sidewalk that goes underneath the Ledyard Bridge but they said their subsequent conversation left them with more questions than answers.
The driver, who is in his 30s, told police he was "trying to get rid of the car" and said something about people wanting to kill him, according to officers at the scene but after putting him through a series of field sobriety exercises the police said he did not appear to be intoxicated.
The man, whose name was being withheld initially, did not appear to be injured but he was transported to the hospital as a precaution.
The mystery deepened after a wrecker crew pulled the red Honda Accord approximately 15 feet back onto the river bank at the Norwich Boat Landing and discovered that while the interior of the car, including the trunk, was in nearly pristine condition, someone had smashed out the rear lights, torn the door handles off the passenger side, smashed off the side mirrors, bashed in the gas door cover, attempted to pry open a rear door hinge and left over a dozen long dents all around the exterior using some type of blunt tool like a pipe or a maul.
After the car was successfully removed from the river, Norwich Police Officer Anna Ingraham was headed to the hospital to continue interviewing the driver. She said some charges were likely but exactly what they will be would depend on the outcome of her investigation.
The incident occurred just upriver above the Dartmouth College boathouse
The car's headlights were on, illuminating plant life in the river
Hanover Deputy Fire Chief Michael Hinsley waded in and attached a hook onto the car which was technically in New Hampshire at that point
Hinsley opened the passenger door, with predictable results
Officer Ingraham was surprised to find extensive damage to the exterior of the vehicle, including missing mirrors and regular blunt instrument marks which appeared to have happened prior to the car being driven into the Connecticut
On Friday afternoon Norwich Police Officer Anna Ingraham identified the driver of the vehicle as James Fucini, 22, of West Lebanon and added that "there will not be any criminal charges" filed against Fucini as a result of Thursday night's incident.
After visiting Fucini in the hospital Ingraham said there still was "no indication of alcohol or drug use" and added that Fucini admitted to her that he had done the exterior damage to the vehicle prior to driving it into the river.
Ingraham said the car turned out to be a 2007 model that was registered to Fucini and noted that it had been in "pretty good condition before he went at it."
Calling it "a very odd situation", Officer Ingraham said nonetheless there was no damage to public property and nothing appeared to have leaked into the river so police are ending their involvement with the matter. "It was definitely a weird evening," Ingraham noted.
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