By Neil H. Dempsey
---- — SALEM — Police say two motorists were arrested on drugged-driving charges after they fled the scenes of two nearly simultaneous crashes in two communities early yesterday morning.
In Salem, Nicholas Paul Cantin, 33, of 190 Bridge St., Salem, was arrested on charges of operating a motor vehicle under the influence of drugs, operating negligently to endanger, speeding greater than reasonable and a marked lanes violation.
About 1:17 a.m., Officer Tracy O’Leary was dispatched to the area of Highland Avenue and Almeda Street following a report of an accident, according to the incident log. O’Leary found a vehicle facing north on the southbound side of the road, “half up on a stone wall surrounding the yard of the residence at 104 Highland Ave.”
“I also observed a National Grid light pole had been sheared in half, strewing wires across the road,” O’Leary wrote, adding that there were multiple damaged trees, too.
The vehicle’s left front tire had been “ripped off,” and the undercarriage and front end were “completely totaled,” she wrote.
The residents at 104 Highland Ave. were out on the sidewalk, having been awakened by the crash, but the operator — Cantin — had apparently fled the scene, police said. Officers later determined he had walked to the Salem Hospital emergency room.
He was arrested without incident. An officer said Cantin had been arrested twice previously on drunken-driving charges.
In Peabody, police arrested Bryan Cortez, 26, of 58 Brunswick St., Apt. 1, Dorchester, on charges of driving under the influence of drugs, resisting arrest, giving an officer a false name or address, disorderly conduct and operating a motor vehicle with a suspended license.
In that incident, Sgt. Sheila McDaid was pulling into the 7-Eleven at 100 Lynn St. about 1:21 a.m. when she saw a vehicle strike a stanchion in front of the business, according to the incident log and an interview with Sgt. Robert Waugh.
When McDaid approached the vehicle, she smelled burnt marijuana — and the operator took off running, Waugh said.
A brief foot pursuit ensued, leading the officer in back of a nearby funeral home. Cortez was cornered behind a building adjacent to the funeral home, then Tasered when he became combative, Waugh said.
He was arrested and transported to Lahey hospital via ambulance so the Taser hooks could be removed.
At the hospital, police found $1,047 and multiple cellphones on Cortez, according to the log.
Police searched the area of the foot pursuit for “anything the subject may have thrown” but didn’t report finding anything.
At 3:22 a.m., Cortez was transported from the hospital to the police station.