Elderly woman leads police on high-speed chase through 3 states, allegedly claims law doesn’t apply to her

UTAH PORT OF ENTRY — A 71-year-old woman, who allegedly claimed the law didn’t apply to her, took patrollers on a high-speed chase across three states Wednesday afternoon.

The chase began between on the northbound side of Interstate 15 in the empty Nevada desert between Moapa and Mesquite where officers say they were pursuing the lone driver a 2006 green Ford Taurus for speeding.

A Nevada Highway Patrol officer had clocked the woman’s vehicle, which had Nevada plates, going 95 mph in the open desert, Utah Highway Patrol Trooper Grant Hintze said.

NHP immediately began a high-speed pursuit.

Once the chase entered the boundaries of Mesquite, the Mesquite Police Department took over. 

The driver still wasn’t slowing down.

The left driver’s side of a Ford Taurus shows damage after
an Arizona Department of Safety vehicle executed a PIT maneuver with it on the northbound Interstate 15 at the Utah Port of Entry Wednesday, March 11, 2020. | Photo by Chris Reed, St. George News

As the chase approached the Arizona border, there was a third handoff – to the Arizona Department of Public Safety. 

The chase continued with the parade of the speeding Ford Taurus and its 71-year-old driver continuing the lead police past Littlefield and into the Virgin River Gorge at a dangerous pace. 

Arizona patrol officers set up a spike strip on north I-15 near the Black Rock exit, which the Taurus ran right over, blowing the tire of the front driver’s side.

That wasn’t enough to stop the driver, even as the front driver’s side tire came off.

“She’s just wasn’t stopping,” Hintze said. 

Arizona officers continued to pursue the vehicle toward the Utah border, while the vehicle slowed to 45 mph, Hintze said. 

The front passenger side of an Arizona Department of Safety vehicle shows a dent after a PIT maneuver with a damaged Ford Taurus on the other side of the northbound Interstate 15 at the Utah Port of Entry Wednesday, March 11, 2020. | Photo by Chris Reed, St. George News

The decision was made to execute a pursuit intervention technique, or PIT maneuver, as Arizona Department of Public Safety Sgt. John Bottoms rammed the right side of his patrol sport utility vehicle into the left side of the Taurus, swerving it sideways and bringing it to a stop right in front of the Utah Port of Entry across the Utah border around 4:20 p.m.

With Utah Highway Patrol joining in, the driver was arrested but still had to be pulled out of the vehicle by officers.  

Hintze said the elderly woman did not go quietly.

“The reason stated by her excited utterances coming out of the vehicle was that she isn’t beholden to anyone,” Hintze said. “She doesn’t recognize law enforcement or government in general.” 

The woman, identified as Cynthia Wartren, was booked into Washington County at Purgatory Correctional Facility, but Hintze said will likely be extradited to Arizona or Nevada. She is being charged with felony reckless driving, speeding and evading. 

The woman and officer were uninjured, and there was no peripheral damage or injury to anyone else on I-15. 

An Arizona Department of Safety vehicle after executing a PIT maneuver on the northbound Interstate 15 at the Utah Port of Entry Wednesday, March 11, 2020. | Photo by Chris Reed, St. George News

No one was hurt, but Hintze said that doesn’t take away from the driver putting her fellow motorists in danger.

“There was a point when traffic kind of backed up in both the northbound lanes with a semitruck driver and another semitruck, and that’s where she got impatient. She actually went around the right on the right emergency shoulder and that’s where the reckless driving charge comes in,” Hintze said. “Who knows if someone is broken down in that lane or changing a tire because you can’t see very far past the trucks.”

Nevertheless, Hintze noted the four different law enforcement agencies made integration and cooperation look easy. 

“It was just seamless from Nevada, to Mesquite, to Arizona, so we could get our safety stop here.” he said.  

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2020, all rights reserved.

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