Suspect flees Utah Highway Patrol troopers in stolen semi-truck, dramatic chase runs through 2 counties

Utah Highway Patrol troopers chase a suspect in a stolen semi-truck on I-80 East in Tooele County Saturday, Sept. 19, 2020. Photo: Gephardt Daily

TOOELE COUNTY, Utah, Sept. 19, 2020 (Gephardt Daily) — A suspect has been taken into custody after a chase through Tooele County, then into Salt Lake County, which reached a speed of 110 mph, and ended after multiple attempts to spike the first and second stolen vehicles — first an SUV, then a semi truck with a tractor trailer.

Utah Highway Patrol Sgt. Nick Swallow told Gephardt Daily that a trooper returning from an investigation in Wendover first saw the suspect with two passengers in a Cadillac Escalade, traveling at a high rate of speed.

The driver stopped long enough to let out two passengers, then sped away as the officer pursued him, and other agencies joined in the operation.

The initial stop was made at about mile marker 53 on eastbound Interstate 80.

“It was an SUV Cadillac, and the plate came back as a stolen vehicle,” Swallow told Gephardt Daily. “While we had units en route to go back to the trooper, the driver took off and then fled the scene after the traffic stop.”

A suspect is taken into custody after leading Utah Highway Patrol troopers on a high-speed chase across two counties Saturday, Sept. 19, 2020. Photo: Gephardt Daily

Besides additional troopers, agents from Tooele County and Tooele City joined in. Spikes were placed ahead of the Escalade, Swallow said.

“He turned the wrong way a little bit and took an exit,” before the spikes, Swallow said. “He went into Grantsville to the distribution center there, for Walmart I believe, and while he was there, he jumped into a semi truck and stole a semi truck tractor trailer.

With his newly stolen vehicle, many times the size and weight of an SUV, the driver re-entered eastbound I-80 at mile marker 84.

“From there, he continued to go eastbound as we were setting up for spikes,” Swallow said. “He turned and crossed the median and went wrong-way, going eastbound in the westbound lanes with oncoming traffic.”

Officers tried to get more spikes set up for the wrong-way driver, but he apparently noticed the action ahead.

“When he saw us do that, he came back across the freeway, and came back going eastbound in eastbound lanes. We tried several times to get him spiked, he swerved at more than one officer, trying to hit the officers.”

The semi driver then made his way onto Highway 201.

“There were several more attempts to spike, and two of those attempts were successful.

The semi came to a stop near 9200 West,” Swallow said.

“It was a felony stop at gunpoint from several agencies,” he said.

As of mid afternoon Saturday, Swallow said the suspect’s name was unknown. The sergeant also said he had no updates on the two passengers who left the Escalade.

Making the decision to pursue was difficult, but public safety was the top priority, Swallow said. Also key to the successful operation was the team effort by multiple agencies, and the ability to adjust when the fleeing vehicle changed from an SUV to a semi, he said.

“It’s a lot harder to stop a semi, that’s for sure,” Swallow said. “Law enforcement is all about working as a team and having a game plan, and weighing all the options.”

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