ST. GEORGE — A traffic stop sparked a pursuit on state Route 18 near Diamond Valley Saturday night that resulted in a vehicle fire, a ground and air search, and an arrest — while one suspect remains at large.
Updated Sunday, 1:22 p.m. – The suspect being sought by police is 35-year-old Adam Brett Wallin who is still at large.
Shortly after 9 p.m., a Washington County Sheriff’s deputy attempted to stop a passenger car on SR 18 in Central for a man wanted on a no-bail warrant.
The driver, later identified as 22-year-old Bailey Gillies, pulled off the highway and stopped on the shoulder, deputy Graham Hancock with the Washington County Sheriff’s Office said.
As soon as the deputy got out of his vehicle, the car pulled back onto the highway and sped off heading south. The deputy pursued the car as reinforcements were called in to assist.
Deputies responded to an area just ahead of the pursuit where they deployed spike strips to slow the suspect’s vehicle down. Three of the suspect’s tires were damaged when the car rolled over the strips at nearly 90 mph, according to a witness.
The suspect’s vehicle continued south at a high rate of speed on damaged tires for another 5-10 miles, “with the driver’s side front tire basically destroyed,” Hancock said. The damage made it difficult to control the car as the tread started flying off the tires, causing it to swerve across the roadway as it continued south toward the Diamond Valley exit.
About 100 yards shy of the exit, the car swerved across the northbound lane and continued off the roadway where it came to rest in a field of dry grass and brush several yards from the highway. The passenger, Wallin, then jumped out of the car and ran from police, while the driver, Gillies, remained near the car and was taken into custody by deputies.
In the meantime, over-heated metal and rubber from the wheels caught the car on fire and within minutes it was fully involved in flames. Firefighters responded from the Diamond Valley Fire Station less than a mile away. Crews attacked the blaze which was spreading to the underlying brush and grass, it was quickly extinguished before it had a chance to spread any further.
All the while, deputies were canvassing the area in search of the man who fled on foot, and a K-9 team was brought in along with a Utah Department of Public Safety helicopter that was dispatched to the area to assist.
The search continued for hours and the suspect remains at large at the writing of this report.
Washington County Sheriff’s deputies were assisted by the St. George Police Department, rangers from the Bureau of Land Management, Dammeron Valley Fire and Rescue, Diamond Valley Fire Department, the Utah Department of Public Safety and the St. George Fire Department.
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