BENNINGTON >> Police say a bystander who flagged down police to report a lost child also helped capture an escaping prisoner.
According to an affidavit by Vermont State Trooper Travis Hess, on Aug. 8 at 5:06 p.m. he was transporting Ryan Battease, 18, of Danby, to the State Police barracks in Shaftsbury to be processed for allegedly driving under the influence of alcohol.
Hess was near River Road in Manchester when he was flagged down by Christopher Moore, 53, who pointed out to Hess a lone child standing beside the road. The child appeared to be three or four years old, was wearing pajamas, and there were no nearby houses.
Hess called Manchester Police for assistance and tried to get the child to come to him, but the child took off into the woods. Hess decided to go after the child and asked Moore not to let Battease out of the cruiser.
The child led Hess 150 yards into the woods before he was caught. When Hess returned to his cruiser, he found Battease outside of it and pinned to the ground by Moore.
Moore said Battease left the cruiser right after Hess went into the woods. Video taken by Hess' cruiser camera shows Battease leaving the vehicle.
Manchester Police Chief Michael Hall said in an interview that Manchester officers were able to reunite the child with his father. The child had wanted to go outside but was told no, he then left anyway when the father turned his back. Hall said it's standard procedure to notify the Department of Children and Families in such instances, which his department did. He said the DCF will issue a report on whether or not further action is necessary, but it may be some time before that happens.
On Monday, in Vermont Superior Court Criminal Division Bennington Unit, Battease pleaded not guilty to a first offense of driving under the influence of alcohol, and escaping the custody of an officer. He was released without bail under conditions, among them that he not consume alcohol.
— Contact Keith Whitcomb Jr. at 802-447-7567 Ext. 115