Mayor dragged from moving truck in attempt to stop errant driver

Warwick. On Saturday, July 29, Mayor Michael Newhard was involved in an incident where a visibly intoxicated man attempted to operate a pickup truck, causing damage to six other vehicles. The mayor tried to stop the man from causing harm to himself or others.

| 01 Aug 2023 | 08:05

Village of Warwick Mayor Michael Newhard stepped out of his store, Newhard’s the Home Source, in Warwick, around 4:30 p.m. on Saturday, July 29, to pick up afternoon coffees for his employees when a passerby warned him that a man was staggering down the road and that 911 had already been called.

Newhard, 68, was on his way to Cafe e Dolci. He was on the corner of the street when he saw the man, a 42-year old from Goshen, bald with a red beard, fall in front of his store.

“I went to help him and it was pretty clear that he was inebriated,” the mayor said in an interview Tuesday. “And I helped get him up - or just tried to get him to sit down on my stoop.”

Newhard was hopeful that he could get the man to stay until police arrived.

“But he would not do that,” said Newhard. “He was pretty strong; he just lunged up, forward and proceeded up the block.”

Staggering, then fall down on Main Street

This was the start of a harrowing series of events.

The man staggered down Main Street, and proceeded to fall again, then continued toward the CVS parking lot.

“I kept asking, ‘How can I help you?’ ‘What’s wrong?’ ‘Where are you going?’” said Newhard.

Newhard followed the man into the parking lot, where he fell again. Newhard and a second person picked him up - and then “he lunged toward his truck and got in,” recounted Newhard.

The mayor tried to stop him by positioning himself in front of the driver’s door, which was open: “I stood there and I said ‘You can’t drive, you mustn’t drive. You are intoxicated. You’re going to hurt yourself or someone else.’”

The keys

“I just stood there and I said: ‘I am not moving, I will not move until you stop or give me your keys,’” recalled the mayor.

While attempting to talk the man down, Newhard noticed the man’s keys were sitting in his lap. Without hesitation, the mayor grabbed the keys.

In that moment, Newhard thought the incident was over.

Instead, things got worse.

“Instantly, he pulled a set of keys out from his console and started the truck,” said Newhard.

The mayor lunged, trying to pull the keys from the ignition, but was unable to reach them around the steering wheel. The man, meanwhile, began driving “with me hanging out of the truck,” said Newhard.

He grabbed and held onto the driver.

“All I knew was that my feet were just being dragged, said Newhard. “He was moving at a very fast pace.”

‘Please. Stop the truck.’

The man proceeded to hit six cars as he drove around the CVS parking lot with Newhard holding onto him, dangling from the truck.

The vehicles were “badly, badly damaged,” said Newhard. “All I could hear was crunching.”

“I kept telling him ‘Please. Stop the truck. You’re gonna hurt me or you’re going to hurt yourself,’” added Newhard. “And he kept telling me to let go. But I was afraid to do that because I probably would have been run over at that point.”

The truck eventually crashed into the back of a parked car, which stopped the vehicle. In that moment, the mayor released himself from the man and tumbled to the ground.

“And I was there on the ground, and people yelled: ‘He’s backing up!” recalled Newhard. He got out of the way as the truck started to reverse.

A U.S. Parks Police officer stops the driver

Seconds later, a U.S. Parks Police officer, who was in the parking lot at the same time, broke the window of the pickup truck and stopped the driver, handcuffing and detaining him. Newhard said Warwick Police arrived on the scene “almost simultaneously.”

The driver was taken to the Emergency Room at St. Anthony Community Hospital for evaluation and testing and then was released, Police Chief John Rader said.

The mayor was also treated for his injuries and released later that night.

“Just bumps and bruises and a terrible headache,” said Newhard. “But I’m okay.

“It definitely was a bit traumatic. I really thought something might happen to me,” he added. “I’m still processing it.”

No charges have been brought

Rader said no charges have been brought against the 42-year-old driver from Goshen. The Warwick Police Department is investigating with assistance from the New York State Police Crime Laboratory and the Orange County District Attorney’s Office. The chief said it could be weeks before the test results are known.

The entire altercation, from when Newhard asked the man not to drive to when he was apprehended by the parks officer, spanned just a few minutes.

Newhard said he was grateful for the park ranger, believed to be a resident of Warwick, and Warwick police.

“My greatest fear was that he would get out onto the street where there were pedestrians - a lot of pedestrians on Saturday afternoon - in Warwick and cars,” he said. “So I was just grateful that he never got out of the parking lot.”