'I held on for dear life.' Warwick mayor injured while trying to help driver in parking lot incident
Warwick Mayor Michael Newhard is recovering from injuries he sustained when he was dragged by a pickup truck while trying to stop the driver from operating the motor vehicle.
Warwick police say they responded to a welfare check Saturday afternoon for a man who kept falling on Main Street and discovered Newhard on the scene trying to help. Newhard saw the man fall and tried to help him when police say the man continued walking and falling into the CVS parking lot where he entered his vehicle.
News 12 spoke to Newhard on Tuesday. He said the man smelled of alcohol and appeared to be intoxicated.
“I became frightened that he was going to drive so I positioned myself on the passenger side, right by the open door and said to him, ‘You cannot drive. You’re going to hurt yourself, and you’re going to hurt people,’” said Newhard.
Police say before they arrived, the mayor attempted to verbally stop the driver and took his keys away, but that the man used a spare set of keys to drive away - dragging Newhard through the parking lot while striking several parked vehicles.
“I held on for dear life,” said Newhard. "He took off. I was shocked and I was holding on to him when he started this chaotic ride through the parking lot, hitting multiple cars.”
Authorities say a U.S. Parks police officer witnessed the incident, broke the window out of the pickup truck and stopped the driver. The officer handcuffed the driver and detained him until Warwick police arrived.
Warwick police say the mayor was thrown from the pickup truck when it struck the first group of parked vehicles. They say the driver struck six vehicles in total.
Both the mayor and the driver were transported to Saint Anthony’s emergency room. Authorities say charges are pending against the driver.
Police have not confirmed the reason for the man’s alleged behavior. They say the results of lab tests are pending. Authorities say charges are pending the findings of the investigation.
The mayor said he suffered minor scrapes and bruising. He was treated and released later that night. Newhard says he’s grateful no one else nearby was hurt.
“That was my biggest fear. Maybe my holding on was a distraction and delayed him. He never got out of the parking lot, thank God.”