By Neil H. Dempsey
---- — SALEM — Police say an unlicensed teenager was arrested yesterday morning after he crashed into a guardrail on Highland Avenue while drag-racing a friend.
There were no injuries.
Angel G. Cruz-Santana, 19, of 38 Salem St., Salem, was arrested on charges of drag-racing, speeding greater than reasonable, operating negligently to endanger, operating a motor vehicle without being licensed and a marked lanes violation.
The accident occurred about 9:30 a.m. near 342 Highland Ave. When an officer arrived on scene, Cruz-Santana told him he had been going about 45 or 50 mph in his 1996 Acura Integra — and trying to keep up with the vehicle a friend was driving in front of him — when his tie rod broke and he lost control of the car, according to the incident log. The vehicle then struck a guardrail and was hit by another vehicle that subsequently fled the scene.
A witness contradicted that version of events, telling police that Cruz-Santana and the driver ahead of him had been racing at the time of the crash and that he had attempted to go in between two vehicles right before the accident. The witness called the driving of both drivers “erratic” and said they had missed his vehicle “by inches” as they passed him at more than 60 mph.
The officer noted that the vehicle Santana-Cruz had allegedly been racing was on scene when he arrived, but that it had left before he realized what role it had played in the accident. Police tried to identify him, apparently without success, and were not able to locate the vehicle that struck Cruz-Santana’s vehicle.
Cruz-Santana’s vehicle sustained damage to its driver-side front quarter panel, front bumper, passenger side and front axle. It was towed.
Police are investigating.