ST. GEORGE — Police say they chased Luis Carlos Martinez-Ramirez 17 miles down Interstate 15 as his wife frantically waved for help from the vehicle.
Now, after a gnarly crash with a semitractor-trailer and being booked into the Purgatory Correctional Facility Wednesday, Martinez-Ramirez, 36, of Bakersfield, California, has been slapped with two second-degree felonies for kidnapping.
He was also charged with a third-degree felony for failure to stop at the command of police and misdemeanors for reckless endangerment, reckless driving and driving with a controlled substance.
According to police, Martinez-Ramirez picked up his estranged wife and her one-year-old daughter in Orem, and started to drive south on I-15 in a black Chevrolet Tahoe with no license plate. After they passed Cedar City, at milepost 40, another driver on I-15 called 911 after observing the woman waving for help from inside the SUV.
Police later learned that the wife had asked Martinez-Ramirez to pull over and let her out several times, but he refused, wrote the responding officer on the probable cause statement.
“Luis had told them that they were going for a short drive but had headed south toward California.”
A Utah Highway Patrol trooper attempted to stop the vehicle with his lights and sirens at milepost 21, but Martinez-Ramirez did not pull over. The Tahoe nearly hit several vehicles as it weaved through traffic.
“I could see the frantic arms of a person seated in the rear seat. They were waving as if the person was in distress.”
Near milepost 14, a UHP trooper was set up to deploy spikes to stop Martinez-Ramirez, but the Tahoe drove into the shoulder to avoid them. The same thing happened a short time later when another trooper attempted to stop Martinez-Ramirez with spikes, the officer wrote.
The chase continued down the interstate as police officers started to get in position to block the off-ramps if necessary.
The pursuit ended when Martinez-Ramirez struck the side of a semitractor-trailer carrying boulders near milepost 4, near the Brigham Road exit of I-15 in St. George. Police arrested Martinez-Ramirez without further incident, and his wife, who suffered minor injuries from the crash, was pulled to safety. The infant was uninjured.
As Martinez-Ramirez was secured in the back of a patrol car, the responding officer wrote on the probable cause statement that is appeared Martinez-Ramirez was coming off the influence of some kind of drug.
“He admitted to having used methamphetamine in the last day,” the officer wrote.
As of the time of this report, Martinez-Ramirez is in custody at the jail. Since being booked, there was an immigration customs hold placed on him by the 5th District Court in St. George.
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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