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The injured driver of a car that police had chased up and down a St. Mary’s highway early Sunday morning was flown to a hospital, authorities report, after law officers found the vehicle smashed into a tree along a side road.

Mechanicsville volunteer firefighters also responded, according to county dispatch reports, and found the car on fire.

St. Mary’s sheriff’s Cpl. Keith Moritz tried to stop the 2012 Nissan Altima for speeding at about 4:26 a.m. that day on Route 235 near Friendship School Road in Mechanicsville, the sheriff’s office reports, but the car went north on Route 235 and Route 5. The pursuit ensued in part because additional traffic infractions indicated that the driver was impaired, according to the sheriff’s office.

The car made a U-turn at the Charles County line and continued southbound on Route 5, the sheriff’s office reports, and the law officers unsuccessfully tried to halt the car using “stop sticks,” before they lost sight of the vehicle in the Laurel Grove area and eventually discovered that it had crashed head-on into the tree at nearby Queen Tree Road.

The driver, whose name was not released, was flown by a Maryland State Police helicopter crew to the Prince George’s Hospital Center to be treated for “substantial injuries,” according to the sheriff’s office.

jwharton@somdnews.com