High-speed chase ends with 4-hour manhunt through desert darkness

Utah Highway Patrol helicopter used in an early morning search for three men who ran from the police near Leeds Utah, Feb. 19, 2014 | Photo by Aspen Stoddard, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — An early morning Interstate 15 high-speed vehicle chase led to a multi-agency foot chase after two adults and one juvenile jumped from a stolen vehicle and ran from police into the desert. There were initially six people in the vehicle. Three juveniles, who didn’t run from the scene were arrested while the search ensued for four hours before the three runners were found and detained quite a distance from the initial traffic stop.

St. George News reconstruction of the vehicle chase, may not reflect exact route | Image courtesy of mapquest.com
St. George News reconstruction of the vehicle chase, may not reflect exact route | Image courtesy of mapquest.com

Highway spikes were used to stop the white Dodge pickup, and trained trackers, as well as K-9 trackers, and a helicopter were all used during the foot chase to locate the runners.

The initial vehicle chase started at 3:18 a.m. in Iron County near the I-15 Enoch Exit, at milepost 63, Iron County Sheriff’s Sgt. Nik Johnson told St. George News. The original reason for the traffic stop was for failure to maintain in a single lane, Johnson said.

The vehicle failed to pull over and a high-speed chase ensued.

The vehicle took off at speeds over 100 mph during the chase. Because it was so early in the morning, there were very few vehicles on I-15, Johnson said. At about 3:40 a.m. the vehicle finally stopped with the use of highway spikes at milepost 27 in Washington County which is near the Toquerville exit. The vehicle was later found to be stolen from the West Valley area in northern Utah and two shotguns were found in the truck.

The distance between the traffic stop and the approximate location of the arrests after the foot chase. This map is a St. George News reconstruction and may not reflect exact route | Image courtesy of mapquest.com
The distance between the traffic stop and the approximate location of the arrests after the foot chase. This map is a St. George News reconstruction and may not reflect exact route | Image courtesy of mapquest.com

Three people jumped from the car and fled into the desert and the other three individuals who stayed in the car were later arrested.

The individuals who ran through the darkness were in constant movement and covered a lot of distance, Johnson said.  The majority of the foot pursuit was in the dark using trained search dogs, trained trackers, flashlights and a Utah Highway Patrol helicopter. The helicopter and the K-9 trackers were vital to the finding the runners, Johnson said.

The area they were finally located and detained in was out by the Toquerville mines, in an area also referred to as the Babylon Flats. This area is southeast of the town of Leeds and accessed by Babylon Road, Washington County Sheriff’s department Detective Nate Abbott said. All three of the runners were found in that same general area, Johnson said.

The Iron County Sheriff’s Department initiated the pursuit but the Washington County Sheriff’s Office led the foot chase, Johnson said. Throughout the incident Cedar City Police Department as well as the Utah Highway Patrol assisted with the chase.

Four juveniles were booked into the Iron County Detention Center and two adults were booked into the Iron County Jail.

Ed. note: Persons arrested or charged are presumed innocent until found guilty in a court of law or as otherwise decided by a trier-of-fact.

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Email: dallred@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2014, all rights reserved.

Utah Highway Patrol helicopter used in an early morning search for three men who ran from the police near Leeds Utah, Feb. 19, 2014 | Photo by Aspen Stoddard, St. George News
Utah Highway Patrol helicopter used in an early morning search for three men who ran from the police near Leeds Utah, Feb. 19, 2014 | Photo by Aspen Stoddard, St. George News

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3 Comments

  • JOSH DALTON February 20, 2014 at 9:59 am

    See…we do have a “Ghetto Bird.” Everyone I told about or police helichopter said our police force was to small. Well here is the proof! If your going to run from the police remeber how hard it is to out run the radio and a helichopter.

  • Vegas momma February 24, 2014 at 1:34 pm

    Spell check…sheriff is incorrectly spelled sherriff. Ugh.

    • Drew Allred Drew Allred February 24, 2014 at 2:50 pm

      One extra “r” snuck in there, didn’t it? Fixed it. Thanks Vegas momma.

      Happy trails,

      Reporter Drew

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