Man accused of pulling metal pipe on motorist during standoff appears in court

2019 file photo of Washington County Sheriff's deputies in Washington County, Utah, Sept. 14, 2019 | File photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — A local man appeared in court Thursday accused of pulling a metal pipe on a motorist during a standoff on state Route 18 that ended when the suspect crashed his vehicle.

Kelly Jaeger, 55, of St. George, appeared in 5th District Court facing one count of third-degree felony assault, as well as two misdemeanor charges, including one count each of reckless driving and an accident involving property damage.

The case involves an incident that began July 16 when a motorist called 911 reporting a possible reckless driver. The caller said he was heading north on SR-18 shortly after 5:30 p.m. when a white van crossed into oncoming traffic to pass his vehicle, nearly hitting a southbound vehicle as it did so.

The van continued north, passing federal fire crew trucks. As he did so, the suspect “stuck his hand out the window with the middle finger up,” the deputy recounted in the report.

The suspect crossed into oncoming traffic a second time to pass another vehicle, followed by the 911 caller, and when Jaeger returned to his lane, he allegedly slammed on his brakes and stopped the van. The caller also stopped and observed the suspect jump out of the van allegedly carrying a metal pipe in his right hand as he approached the 911 caller’s vehicle.

Kelly Jaeger, 53, of Washington County, Utah, booking photo taken in Washington County, Utah, July 17, 2020 | Photo courtesy of the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, St. George News

The reporting party, who had a concealed weapons permit, drew his weapon when he saw the suspect carrying the metal pipe, which is when Jaeger got back in the van and continued driving north on SR-18, followed by the caller who was updating emergency dispatch to the suspect’s location.

Once the van exited the highway, the suspect turned north onto Lodge Road and continued up the hillside where he crashed the van near the top of the hill.

The report also states that the suspect stumbled out of the vehicle and walked toward the caller, who then pointed his firearm at Jaeger and advised him not to come any closer. The caller lost sight of the suspect as he stumbled down the hill.

The following day, a Washington County Sheriff’s deputy responded to a report of a wanted person in St. George and arrived to find Jaeger speaking with a St. George Police officer. The suspect was arrested and booked into Purgatory Correctional Facility on one count of “aggravated assault for using a metal pipe to threaten the victim with bodily harm, reckless driving for passing twice in the no-pass zone, driving at an estimated 60 mph in the 25 mph residential zone, wrecking his vehicle, leaving the scene of an accident and disorderly conduct,” the deputy noted in the probable cause statement.

The suspect remains in custody on $5,000 bail as this report publishes.

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.

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

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