St. George police officer gets unexpected ‘help from above’ while rescuing woman held against her will

File Photo: Gephardt Daily/Monico Garza/SLCScanner

ST. GEORGE, Utah, Sept. 12, 2021 (Gephardt Daily) — A St. George police officer got some unexpected “help from above” in capturing a man accused of holding a woman against her will during a prolonged chase.

The man, 23-year-old Colton David Richmond, also faces drug-related charges due to contraband substances found in his car, and paraphernalia that would suggest he is a dealer.

Richmond faces charges of:

  • Aggravated kidnapping, a first-degree felony
  • Failure to stop or respond at command of police, a third-degree felony
  • Possession of a controlled substance schedule l/ll/analog, a third-degree felony
  • Possession of a dangerous weapon by a restricted person, a third-degree felony
  • Reckless driving, a class B misdemeanor
  • Damage/interrupt communications device, a class B misdemeanor
  • Use or possession of drug paraphernalia, a class B misdemeanor
  • Driving on denied license, a class C misdemeanor

The Chase

A St. George officer first noticed the man later identified as Richmond just after midnight when the suspect sped away from an intersection, the probable cause statement says.

“I watched and listened as the vehicle accelerated heavily and hard enough to the point that the tires slightly lost traction and squealed,” the officer said in Richmond’s affidavit.

As the officer followed, he saw the silver Beetle “abruptly cut across all lanes of travel without signaling or showing any concern for other vehicles in effort to now go south on I-15,” the statement says. “Based on the driving pattern up to this point I suspected that the driver was too impaired to safely operate a vehicle.”

The Beetle then abruptly exited Interstate 15 at exit 4. The officer followed the car through a roundabout, and activated his flashing emergency lights. The Beetle seemed to begin pulling over, then took off again, making a U-turn as Richmond looked the officer directly in the eyes, the probable cause statement says.

“At that point it became apparent to me that the vehicle was now fleeing,” the officer said.

The officer turned around, and saw the Beetle driving the wrong direction through the second of two turnabouts. The officer pursued, and saw a female passenger looking at him through Beetle’s the rear window.

As the high-speed pursuit continued, with Richmond sometimes slowing as if he were going to stop before accelerating again, the officer was informed by dispatch that a woman had called to say there were children in the car, and police needed to stop the pursuit. In a second call, the woman asked for help and the sounds of a struggle were heard over the phone.

Unexpected pilot assist

The suspect led the officer onto a rocky, dirt road, and the Beetle seemed to suffer damage from low clearance. The officer said the chase continued until he accidentally drove off the road, after being blinded by all dust being kicked up during the pursuit.

“As I became stuck I was told by dispatch that there was a citizen flying a private airplane above me,” the officer’s report says. “The pilot called into dispatch and began relaying information about seeing my vehicle as well as the suspect vehicle. As I attempted to get my vehicle back onto the road, the pilot told dispatch that the vehicle stopped and the driver took off running.

“I was unable to get my vehicle back onto the road, however, there was still innocent people inside the vehicle. At that point I began tactically advancing towards the suspect vehicle. As I got closer to the vehicle I began calling out and started speaking with the adult female passenger who was hysterical at the time. I asked her about the children and she stated there was not any.”

The woman told the officer Richmond had brandished a knife and told her to call police and get them to stop the pursuit. The passenger said that she panicked and made up the idea of kids being in the vehicle.

The woman said she was in the car only because she had arranged to get a ride to Cedar City. She said she had tried to pull the emergency brake multiple times, and Richmond started hitting her in the face, she said. Richmond fled because he had a warrant out for his arrest, she added.

A search by police K-9s teams turned up Richmond hiding in vegetation, the statement says. He surrendered and was arrested.

A search of the Beetle turned up a large number of unused syringes and small plastic bags, one syringe that appeared to be loaded with heroin, a digital scale, a metal grinder with residue suspected to be marijuana, the statement said.

A records check revealed Richmond had multiple drug convictions over seven years and had been denied a driver license.

Richmond is currently being held without bail.

File photo: UPI/Sakhorn

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