WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — One day after a deputy crashed his car into an SUV during a chase, the Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office is explaining why the chase started in the first place.
The sheriff’s office says a deputy observed suspicious activity between some people at the gas station at Seneca and McCormick shortly after midnight Monday. The deputy asked for backup, and another deputy arrived.
As that deputy arrived, the people involved in the suspicious activity got into a Chevy HHR and headed east on McCormick. Deputies say the headlights were off, so both deputies tried to pull the vehicle over at Lincoln and McLean. However, the driver did not pull over, and that is when the chase started.
A sheriff’s office spokesperson says the deputies chased the vehicle for about seven minutes and 30 seconds, with speeds ranging from 40 mph to 80 mph. He says the HHR turned north onto Topeka, where Topeka is one-way going south. The chase continued until one of the deputies crashed into a westbound SUV at Douglas and Topeka. His patrol car then crashed into a business at the intersection.
The other deputy ended the chase. The people in the HHR kept going and got away. The sheriff’s office later found the abandoned HHR in the downtown area. They know who it is registered to and are continuing to search for the suspects.
The deputy in the wrecked patrol car and the 52-year-old woman in the SUV had serious injuries and were hospitalized. The deputy has since been released. The hospital says the woman is in fair condition.
The sheriff’s office asked the Kansas Highway Patrol to investigate the crash.
During a Tuesday afternoon news conference about the chase and crash, Col Brian White with the sheriff’s office said every pursuit is a little different. Supervisors must balance the safety of the public and the importance of catching a suspect.
“I’ll tell you when you get into a vehicle traveling the wrong way on a roadway, part of what you’re trying to do is warn the public that’s in the area that this vehicle is traveling in the wrong way,” White said. “And so that balance between discontinuing the pursuit and allowing that vehicle to continue on the roadway in the wrong direction without any warning at all, or go ahead, or whether the deputy is going to go ahead and disregard the pursuit is a difficult decision in those moments.”
White says there is an internal investigation into the chase.