Man arrested at gunpoint after hour-long foot pursuit near Virgin River

Officers parked along Long Valley Road and Washington Dam Road during a search for a suspect involved in a foot pursuit, Washington County, Utah, March 15, 2018 | Photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News

WASHINGTON COUNTY — A foot pursuit that lasted for nearly an hour ended in the arrest of a St. George man Thursday after multiple agencies joined forces near state Route 7 in Washington County.

The incident began Wednesday when Washington County Sheriff’s deputies responded to the area of SR-7 and Washington Dam Road on what was initially an unrelated incident involving a possible drunk driver, Washington County Sheriff’s Lt. Dave Crouse said.

Virgil Wayne Coles, of St. George, Utah, booking photo, March 15, 2018 | Photo courtesy of the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, St. George News

Deputies located a man, later identified as Virgil Wayne Coles of St. George, who officers suspected of driving under the influence and then discovered he had an active warrant out of Washington County.

The man was transported to Washington County Purgatory Correctional Facility a short time later and booked on suspicion of DUI, as well as for the warrant, Crouse said.

During the investigation police also learned that the woman Coles was found with Wednesday, Sally Ann Christensen, had an order of protection filed against Coles, an order that was still in effect.

On Thursday, deputies returned to the location to follow up with Christensen on the alleged protective order violation, and according to a witness, found the couple hitch-hiking together on SR-7.

During the subsequent investigation, deputies found that Christensen had an unrelated, active misdemeanor warrant out of the Iron County Justice Court, and she was taken into custody and transported to jail.

Meanwhile, deputies advised Coles that he was in violation of the protective order and began placing him under arrest. Instead of complying, however, Coles fled on foot toward an area near the Virgin River, with deputies close behind.

Additional officers, including a K-9 unit, were called in to help search.

Sally Ann Christensen, of St. George, Utah, booking photo, March 15, 2018 | Photo courtesy of the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, St. George News

A short time later, the K-9 led officers to the man’s location. With the K-9 barking, the officers approached Coles and ordered him to comply, which he did, Crouse said.

Coles was handcuffed and taken into custody without any further incident, before being transported and booked into jail for the protective order violation and failing to stop at an officer’s command, both class A misdemeanors.

Cole is being held on $3,900 bail, and remains in custody at the writing of this report.  Christensen is being held on $680 bail on the warrant and also remains in jail at this time.

Thursday’s incident, with the dual arrest and prolonged search that continued for nearly an hour, was a two-hour ordeal, Crouse said, and one injury was reported.

Crouse went on to say that a deputy “became tangled up in a barbed-wire fence, and was later checked out by medical personnel for minor injuries.”

Washington County Sheriff’s deputies were joined by the K-9 unit as well as multiple officers dispatched from the Hurricane Police Department, Washington City Police Department and the Utah Department of Natural Resources.

This report is based on statements from police or other emergency responders and may not contain the full scope of findings. Persons arrested or charged are presumed innocent until found guilty in a court of law or as otherwise decided by a trier-of-fact.

Email: cblowers@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2018, all rights reserved.

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1 Comment

  • mmsandie March 16, 2018 at 8:54 pm

    He could use a shower and haircut but arrest photos never show your best side

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