QUEENSBURY — Police have arrested a woman who they believe was involved in two high-speed chases with State Police early Friday, one of them while going the wrong way on the Northway an hour after a fight involving an occupant of her car on the Thruway near Albany.
Troopers seized a loaded handgun and cocaine, arresting three people during two traffic stops that were sandwiched around two pursuits. A State Police car was damaged during the chase in Queensbury when it collided with a truck, though no injuries were reported.
State Police tracked down the woman in Queensbury hours after the Northway chase, thanks to the keen eyes of a trooper who spotted a vehicle getting on the Northway that was registered in the same hometown as the suspect involved in the chase.
The arrests capped a wild few hours of searches and pursuits on two highways, and along Corinth Road in Queensbury.
State Police said the investigations began when a man was arrested on a drug charge during a traffic stop around 4:45 a.m. on the Thruway near Exit 23 in Albany County. The man fought with troopers as he was taken into custody.
A woman who was with him then got behind the wheel of the car they were in and fled the traffic stop, and the car was spotted about an hour later by troopers between exits 17 and 18.
Police said the driver refused to stop, and crossed the highway median at one point, damaging the vehicle, to drive northbound in the southbound lanes. Troopers discontinued the chase for safety reasons a short time later.
Police said the driver cut across from the northbound to southbound lanes near the Hudson River bridge.
The car was described as a white Ford Taurus with Vermont license plates, registered to an address in Proctor, Vermont, according to State Police.
The sedan was spotted hidden behind Green Mountain Electric Supply on Corinth Road by employees of the business around 8:20 a.m., and State Police responded with a canine to try to figure out where the driver went.
The dog was taking officers east along Corinth Road.
Just before 10 a.m. Friday, Trooper Heath McCrindle spotted a Jeep with Vermont plates getting on the Northway to head north at Exit 18, and a license plate check showed it was registered to a resident of Proctor as well, authorities said. McCrindle pulled it over on the Exit 19 northbound off ramp, taking two occupants into custody without incident, police said.
Charged with felony reckless endangerment for the early morning pursuit on the Northway was Ericka M. Handy, 27, of Proctor. Handy and the woman driving the Jeep, Nicole LaFrance, 32, of Proctor, were charged with felony criminal possession of a weapon in connection with a loaded .380-caliber handgun that was seized during their arrests.
Both women also face misdemeanor counts of criminal possession of a controlled substance for possession of cocaine, according to State Police.
Handy was also charged with driving while ability impaired by drugs and felony tampering with physical evidence.
State Police investigators believe Handy hid in an unidentified location along one of the “state streets” in West Glens Falls after she abandoned the Ford sedan, called for a ride and was picked up by LaFrance.
Both women were arraigned in Queensbury Town Court and sent to Warren County Jail for lack of bail.
Police said the man arrested in Albany County was charged with a felony drug possession count, but information as to his identity was not available later Friday.