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Stolen Van Crashes Into Elmwood Community Center After Pursuit

Man driving van stolen in Newington is injured in accident.

A man who crashed a stolen van through the fence and into the Elmwood Community Center late Monday night caused damage to both the property and the van. The man was also injured and was transported to St. Francis Hospital for treatment, West Hartford Police said.

Edwin Valentin, 48, of 129 Zion St., Hartford, was spotted by a Newington Police officer at about 10:30 p.m. Monday driving a van without any lights on in the vicinity of West Hill Auto on Newington Rd., according to an incident report prepared by West Hartford Police.

West Hartford Police said that Valentin had stopped by the Newington Police Department earlier in the day, trying to obtain directions to West Hill Auto because his vehicle had been towed there. Valentin's vehicle had been towed to West Hill Auto folllowing an arrest by West Hartford Police for a warrant out of Hartford.

According to police, Valentin was unable to locate his own vehcile at West Hill Auto. The incident report reads, "Upon searching the lot he stumbled upon a West Hill Auto van with a key inside it. The suspect stole the van."

According to West Hartford Police, Newington Police saw the van traveling without lights and attempted to stop it as it traveled north on Newington Rd.

A release issued by the Newington Police Department reads, "The suspicious vehicle subsequently fled the location at a high rate of speed, and continued north on Willard Avenue into the Town of West Hartford. Newington Police did not initiate a pursuit of the vehicle, however officers did continue along the vehicle’s last known direction of travel, whereupon they found the vehicle had crashed at the intersection of Newington Avenue and New Britain Avenue in the Town of West Hartford."

The incident is being investigated by West Hartford Police who have not yet determined if charges will be filed.

Newington Police also continue to investigate the incident, and said in the release that they expect to make an arrest.

West Hartford Police said that a building inspector was called to the scene and determined that Elmwood Community Center, which served as a "convenience center" Tuesday for those without power, was safe and had not sustained any structual damage. There was major damage to the fence along New Britain Ave., and a light post and fiber optic cable box on the grounds of the Elmwood Community Center were also destroyed, police said.   

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