ST. GEORGE — A California man was reunited with his family after a slow-speed pursuit in Santa Clara turned into a rescue operation when officers discovered the driver suffered a possible stroke early Tuesday morning.
At about 3:30 a.m., Santa Clara/Ivins Police officers were attempting to make a traffic stop on Santa Clara Drive, but instead of pulling over, the driver continued down the road at about 30 mph. The officers followed the car “in a slow-speed pursuit,” Santa Clara/Ivins Police Sgt. Reed Briggs said, until the driver “finally pulled over and stopped the vehicle.”
Officers approached the car, and while speaking with the driver, noticed the man seemed “very disoriented,” which did not appear to be caused by either drugs or alcohol, Briggs said. Officers then contacted dispatch and requested an ambulance.
“The driver seemed confused and not sure where he was, which is why the officers called medical,” Briggs said.
Upon arrival, EMTs assessed the man who was then transported to Dixie Regional Medical Center for evaluation for what appeared to be a possible stroke.
The officers would soon discover that a series of events transpired between California and Utah, which culminated in the traffic stop on Santa Clara Drive in the middle of the night.
Officers learned that a few days prior, the driver had suffered a stroke in his hometown of Stockton, California, and shortly thereafter left the area without telling anyone. When the family finally heard from him, he seemed confused and wasn’t sure where he was.
“He told them he thought he was in El Paso and was trying to find I-15 after taking a wrong turn in Vegas, which concerned the family because it made no sense,” Briggs said.
The man’s family then contacted the Stockton Police Department and reported the incident, at which point authorities entered the driver’s name and information into the national police database where he was listed as a missing and vulnerable adult.
The driver was stopped by officers in St. George shortly after 8 p.m Monday who were conducting a welfare check on the man after receiving the alert, and they noted that the driver “appeared alert, was providing appropriate answers to police, and appeared to be fine,” St. George Police Officer Tiffany Atkin said.
Officers contacted the family and relayed their observations, telling them the man was going to sleep in his car for the night before returning home to California. The information was also relayed to authorities in California and the alert was removed.
“The family was comfortable with him returning the next day, and everything seemed fine at that point,” Atkin said.
Less than seven hours later, the man would be stopped in Santa Clara where the officers knew “something was very wrong” as soon as they approached the man’s car. Without the alert that had been canceled hours earlier, officers began piecing together the events that took place between California and Utah.
“From what we’ve gathered, the driver had another stroke or some type of medical event between the stop in St. George and then here, in Santa Clara,” Briggs said.
While the driver was on his way to the hospital, the family was contacted and advised that their loved one was located and receiving medical attention in St. George. The family told police they would be heading to Utah right away.
“It was a slow-speed pursuit that turned out to be a pretty crazy situation,” Briggs said. “But, luckily it ended up with the man being reunited with his family.”
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