Church Crash

A Jeep Renegade sits precariously on a rock retaining wall in front of St. Joseph Church In Belmont after going off the road and across the church's entrance. Police are asking for the public's help in locating the driver who fled the scene. (Courtesy photo/Belmont PD)

BELMONT — Local police are seeking the public’s help in finding a driver who fled the scene following a crash in which an SUV careened across the entrance of St. Joseph Church before pitching down a retaining wall and coming to rest.

The accident occurred shortly before 12:30 a.m. Wednesday.

According to Belmont police, a motorist who saw the crash said a man fled the vehicle and ran behind the church toward the laundromat, where the witness lost sight of him.

A witness described the man as being 5 feet 10 inches tall, and weighing 170 pounds.

The Jeep Renegade failed to stop for the stop sign at Gilmanton Road (Route 140) and Main Street, went off Main Street, rode up onto the front walkway of the church, slammed into a railing, then came to rest on the retaining wall on the south side of the church.

Officers said a large section of the stone wall and a stair railing were badly damaged. Both had recently been rebuilt.

The vehicle’s registered owner told police she “was unable to advise police who had the vehicle at the time of the crash,” Belmont police Capt. Rich Mann said in a statement.

The vehicle received extensive front-end and undercarriage damage. The impact also caused all of the SUV's airbags to deploy.

Police canvassed the area and found surveillance showing an adult male with the vehicle a short time before the crash. Officers are using video and other sources of information to attempt to locate the driver.

“This event resulted in significant property damage. We are very interested in hearing from anyone who has information that will lead to the driver’s identity,” Mann said.

Anyone with information is asked to call Belmont police at 603-267-8350. Callers with information may remain anonymous.

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