WEST NEWBURY – Two teenagers were caught after they entered the construction site of the new Pentucket Regional High School and drove a forklift, according to police.
West Newbury Police Sgt. Jay Johnson was checking the scene around 1:30 a.m. Saturday during his regular patrol when he noticed what Chief Michael Dwyer called “unusual activity.”
Looking closer, Johnson saw the teenagers on the forklift and confronted them.
Sean P. Gallagher, 18, of Groveland, was arrested and charged with unauthorized use of a motor vehicle, trespassing and malicious destruction of property under $1,200.
The second teenager, Luis-Anthony N. Ciriaco, 18, also of Groveland, fled on foot but was issued a summons the next day for the same offenses.
Dwyer said the teenagers vandalized the construction site but did not damage the new school.
“I’m glad there was no damage to the building,” Dwyer said, adding that he was also glad there were no injuries.
The new 211,700-square-foot school is expected to house about 970 students when it opens this fall. It replaces the old high school, which opened in 1967, and the high school, which opened in 1958.
Johnson saw the forklift being used, but could not get a good look at who was driving the vehicle, according to court documents.
This led him to drive to the old high school parking lot where he found a Jeep Liberty. In sight, he saw several empty alcohol containers and noticed that the engine was still hot. He ran the Jeep’s license plate and discovered it was registered to a Gallagher family member.
“I heard a conversation coming from the door area and started walking towards the door,” Johnson wrote in his report. “As I got closer, I could hear two different voices and I saw one of them approach the door. They saw me approaching and fled back into the building.”
Groveland police and a second West Newbury officer responded. Officers began searching for the two teenagers in and around the construction site. Officers checked the forklift and noted that a fire extinguisher had also been used. The fire extinguisher left marks on the new pavements which were later removed.
Groveland Police Officer Kyle Elardo spotted Gallagher walking along Merrimack River Road in Groveland and took him back to the school.
“I asked Mr. Gallagher if he was one of the people I heard and observed at the play. He admitted he was, but that he was with a friend ‘who talked me into making a bad decision,'” he wrote Johnston in his report.
A representative of the construction company WT Rich Co. arrived and noticed that other than the used fire extinguisher and a pipe marker that had been run over by the forklift, there was no damage to the site. He also told police the keys were left under the seat of the forklift.
Gallagher told police enough about his friend that officers were able to track down Ciriaco and summon him to court.