The vehicle involved in a high-speed chase was abandoned in a downtown Riverhead parking lot Tuesday afternoon. The operator fled on foot. police said. Photo: Stringer News Service

Updated 4 p.m. — A man Southold Police say led officers on a high-speed chase Tuesday afternoon, resulting in the crash of a Riverhead Police cruiser that seriously injured an officer, has been arrested by Southold police on multiple charges.

Southold Police charged Alfred A. Cowell, 40, of Middle Island, with Burglary, Unauthorized Use of a Motor Vehicle, Unlawfully Fleeing Police, Reckless Driving, Aggravated Unlicensed Operation of a Motor Vehicle and a number of traffic infractions, according to a press release issued late last night.

Cowell was arrested yesterday after being spotted at a county park by a Suffolk Sheriff’s surveillance unit, Southold Police said.

Sheriff’s deputies took him into custody and brought him to Riverhead Police Department headquarters, where Southold Town Police placed him under arrest.

Police said Cowell removed keys from a Greenport home in order to take the resident’s vehicle without permission. The resident notified police and Cowell was spotted by an off-duty Southold police officer who radioed in the location of the vehicle a blue 2020 Nissan Rogue, police said.

A patrol officer saw the vehicle and attempted to stop the vehicle by activating the emergency lights and sirens of his marked police car, according to the press release. Cowell refused to stop and sped away in a westerly direction on Route 48 in Southold, police said.

Other units arrived in the area while Cowell reached speeds over 100 mph and at one point crossed over into the eastbound lane of Route 48 while continuing westbound, nearly colliding with several other vehicles before the pursuit was terminated by a police sergeant, according to the Southold Police press release.

Cowell continued into Riverhead on Sound Avenue, where he was “encountered by State Police,” Southold police said.

Riverhead Police Officer Robert Sproston was responding to Sound Avenue by way of Osborn Avenue, with his emergency lights activated. He was attempting to pass another northbound vehicle on Osborn Avenue when the other vehicle attempted to turn left onto Youngs Avenue. The two vehicles collided and the police cruiser crashed into a fence. Sproston was seriously injured in the accident. He was transported by ambulance to Peconic Bay Medical Center and then flown by Northwell SkyHealth helicopter to Stony Brook University Hospital. He is recovering there and listed in serious but stable condition, according to Riverhead Police.

In a press release Tuesday night, police said the vehicle being pursued turned south onto Doctors Path and continued southbound on Northville Turnpike and then south onto Roanoke Avenue. The operator left the vehicle in the vicinity of the First Street parking lot and fled on foot, police said.

Cowell was held for arraignment due to the felony burglary charge and the victim having requested an order of protection, Southold Police said.

“This is a fine example of interagency collaboration that ultimately led to the arrest of this suspect whose callous actions caused life-threatening injuries to an officer,” Suffolk Sheriff Errol Toulon Jr. said. “I am proud of the deputies for their excellent work and role in bringing this individual to justice.”

Editor’s note: A criminal charge is an accusation. A person charged with a crime is presumed innocent unless proven guilty in a court of law.

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Denise Civiletti
Denise is a veteran local reporter, editor, attorney and former Riverhead Town councilwoman. Her work has been recognized with numerous awards, including investigative reporting and writer of the year awards from the N.Y. Press Association. She is a founder, owner and co-publisher of this website.Email Denise.