WEST WARWICK, R.I. (WPRI) — An investigation is underway after an overnight crash in West Warwick claimed the life of a man and displaced five people from their home.
Eyewitness News has since learned the driver was also involved in a brief police pursuit just moments before the deadly crash.
Emergency crews responded around 1:30 a.m. Thursday to Andrews Avenue at Wood Street. According to fire officials, a pickup truck hit a tree before careening into a home. Police have identified the driver of the truck as Michael Golding, 33, of West Warwick.
Coventry Police confirmed an officer spotted Golding’s truck being operated erratically and at a high speed at approximately 1:23 a.m. near the intersection of Laurel Avenue and Washington Street in Coventry. One eyewitness told Eyewitness News they saw the truck fly by, tires screeching.
Police said the officer pursued Golding for about a minute over a half mile distance, abandoning the pursuit near Read Avenue on the West Warwick line when he refused to stop and continued to accelerate.
Moments later, surveillance video from a neighboring home captured the truck apparently speeding down Andrews Avenue around 1:24 a.m.
Brain Lamothe lives next door to the home that was hit. He said the impact woke him.
“I heard this noise like the vehicle hitting something,” he said. “I thought it was hitting the car that was parked in the road but there was no metal on metal, so I knew it was something else. “
Neighbor Justin Titus said he saw the truck speeding before the crash.
“As I was walking out of my house, I happened to see a car go flying by,” recalled Titus. “Next thing I heard was a car collision. I came to see a pickup truck up against the side of a house and I seen a body got taken out.”
Jessica Rogowski stopped by the Andrews Avenue home on Thursday afternoon. She said she was friend of Golding’s.
“This doesn’t feel real,” she said. “He would make anybody smile. He comes in that room you’re laughing no matter what. He was the funniest person. He had the biggest heart, and he loved his son.”
Police said based on their preliminary findings, it appears excessive speed was a significant factor in the crash. Coventry Police said they will conduct an internal review of the pursuit, per standard protocol.
The home was condemned following the crash, officials said, and five residents were displaced as a result.