Traffic stop for possible DUI leads to 9-hour ordeal ending in 2 arrests

File photo of a Utah Highway Patrol vehicle in St. George, Utah, Nov. 2, 2016 | Photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News

ST. GEORGE The Utah Highway Patrol’s DUI squad made the trek to Southern Utah to focus on getting impaired drivers off of the road, but a traffic stop on Interstate 15 Wednesday set off a 9-hour incident where a pursuit, two stolen cars and a search by land and air ended with a trip to jail.

The incident began at about 1:15 p.m. when a Mercedes was stopped on southbound I-15 near Exit 4 where the trooper “observed some suspicious behavior outside of the normal scope of a traffic stop,” as he approached the vehicle, UHP Sgt. Nick Street said.

Just then a BMW pulled over to the right and stopped directly in front of the Mercedes, Street said, and within seconds both vehicles pulled back onto the interstate and headed south at a high rate of speed.

The trooper pursued the suspects while Arizona authorities were alerted to the vehicles heading south across the border and the pursuit was terminated in Utah.

Troopers soon learned that both vehicles were reported stolen out of Los Angeles, California.

As Arizona Highway Patrol troopers were en route to the area a call came into the Cedar City Emergency Dispatch Center reporting that both vehicles had crashed while attempting to exit the interstate in Arizona.

The crash involved the Mercedes that instead became stuck in a ditch near the Black Rock exit and was found abandoned with the driver unaccounted for, which led police to believe both suspects fled in the BMW.

Officers began searching for the pair west of Black Rock Road, a vast area with a number of unnamed dirt roads while a helicopter from Southern Utah University Aviation equipped with night vision capabilities was launched to assist in the search.

The BMW was found abandoned on one of the dirt roads near the border and police continued the search for the suspects.

At around 7 p.m. the pair were spotted in the Bloomington area, Sgt. John Bottoms told St. George News, confirming that Utah had jurisdiction over the incident.

The two suspects were located later that evening in the Sun River area. Both were arrested and taken to Purgatory Correctional Facility and the case was turned over to the Utah State Bureau of Investigation.

No further information was released at the writing of this report.

This report is based on statements from police or other 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. 

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