Men flee across I-15 to escape arrest; one man at large

WASHINGTON COUNTY – Two men in their 20s fled the scene of a Utah Highway Patrol traffic stop and arrest on Interstate 15 Saturday afternoon.  One, the driver, was apprehended but the other remains at large, last seen in the New Harmony area. He may be armed and dangerous and the UHP is requesting the public report anyone or any information that may assist them in finding the man. He is described as an Hispanic male with black hair, brown eyes, wearing blue jeans and a teal shirt.

Earlier in the afternoon an “attempt to locate” alert was dispatched to law enforcement regarding a Chevrolet Impala with Colorado license plates driving recklessly. At 2:45 p.m. UHP located and stopped the Chevy heading northbound on I-15 at mile post 38, both on the basis of the alert and the car’s window tint being too dark.

There were two men and three women in the car.

One woman arrested

The trooper could smell marijuana, UHP spokeswoman Jalaine Hawkes said, and one of the women, age 40s, pulled some marijuana out of her shirt and gave it the trooper. The trooper placed the woman under arrest, in handcuffs, at the front of the car. He also confiscated some heroin that she had in her pockets.

Driver arrested

The trooper then addressed the male driver, age 20s, and said “I need you to step out of the car,” Hawkes said. As he started getting out of the car he was reaching into his pockets, she said, which made the trooper nervous and they struggled. The trooper heard something metal fall to the ground, there was a scuffle and the trooper was able to handcuff the man without injury. Then he saw a loaded magazine for a handgun on the ground.

Male passenger flees

The other man then ran across I-15 crossing both the northbound and southbound lanes, Hawkes said. He remains at large.

Driver also flees and is apprehended

Shortly after the second man fled, the driver who had been handcuffed also ran across both the northbound and southbound lanes of I-15. Hawkes said that he was not handcuffed at that time and she did not know how he got free from his handcuffs.

“He was never released from custody,” she said, “he was in the trooper’s custody. The trooper’s main concern when he ran across the highway was that, that male was possibly armed with a handgun – being in the line of fire – addressing his own safety as well as the people there.”

Handgun found in the vehicle

In addition to the loaded magazine for a handgun dropped during the initial scuffle between the trooper and the driver, a handgun was found inside the vehicle. The serial number had been scratched off the gun but UHP was able to identify it through the FBI’s National Crime Information Center database as stolen.

The type and style of gun, personalized marks on the gun, discernible serial numbers remaining, are among things that can help identify guns through the NCIC database, Hawkes said.

Driver apprehended, second man at large

Additional UHP units arrived and were able to apprehend the fleeing driver.

It was reported that one of the men tried to escape the area on a horse, but the horse was unwilling to aid the criminal,” the UHP report said.

“I’m not sure if they spoke to a citizen or who,” Hawkes said, “they saw a Hispanic man trying to ride a horse – whether it was the driver or the missing man, I don’t know – he was trying to ride a horse, but was unable to and eventually fled on foot.”

The search continues for the second man that fled. He was last seen in the New Harmony area and is described as an Hispanic male in his 20s, with black hair, brown eyes, wearing blue jeans and a teal shirt.

Woman arrested taken to hospital before booking

The woman who was arrested complained of a medical problem and was transported to Valley View Hospital in Cedar City. She was later released and booked into the Washington County Jail.

Other two women passengers

The other two women passengers were not involved, not charged and no mention is made of them in the trooper’s report, Hawkes said.

Charges

There are felony and misdemeanor charges in this case.

According to Washington County Booking Records, Juan Ulises Zedepa-Valdez, was booked into the Purgatory Correctional Facility  on charges of escaping custody, altering a weapon (serial number), receiving stolen property, weapons charge, possession of paraphernalia, possession of marijuana, brake light and window tint violations. Total bail set at $14,948.

Jeannette Jeanie Garcia was booked on charges of receiving stolen property, altering a weapon (serial number), weapons charge, two counts of possession of paraphernalia, drug possession, and marijuana possession. Total bail set at $16,801.

Contact UHP at telephone 435-586-9445 or call 911 with any information concerning the man who fled. Do not approach him yourself.

Email: jkuzmanic@stgnews.com

Twitter: @JoyceKuzmanic

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2013, all rights reserved.

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1 Comment

  • Steve August 5, 2013 at 11:59 am

    This sounds like a dangerous criminal. Have authorities checked with every family who lives nearby to make sure they are all OK? What are they doing to identify the man, especially through pressuring the arrested and non-arrested companions for details? Obviously every one of the people in that car was involved in crime. All of them need to be removed from our area.

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