Franklin County deputies were involved in three vehicle pursuits earlier this week that led to arrests.
The first pursuit occurred Sunday, March 24, at 11:30 p.m. when a deputy patrolling in the Gray Summit area observed a dark colored Volkswagen car without license plates on West Osage Street near a Missouri Department of Transportation shed, according to the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office.
The deputy attempted to stop the car but the driver fled eastbound in the vehicle on Interstate 44.
On Monday, March 25, a car matching the description of the Volkswagen was reported stolen from Performance Motor Sports in Pacific. Deputies were contacted later in the day by Central Midland Railway stating a dark-colored Volkswagen was parked near the railroad tracks in a wooded area off Highway M.
Deputies responded to the area and confirmed it was the stolen vehicle. An investigation led deputies to a nearby home where they located Mark E. Whitaker, 53, Villa Ridge, authorities said.
Whitaker confessed to stealing the car and fleeing from the deputy the previous day. A warrant was issued for his arrest for stealing a motor vehicle and resisting arrest.
Bond was set at $20,000.
The second pursuit began Tuesday. March 26, at 11:40 p.m. after deputies recognized a vehicle at the Casey’s General Store in St. Clair which resembled a vehicle that recently fled from the St. Clair police, the sheriff’s office said.
Deputies attempted to stop the vehicle as it fled east on Commercial Drive and continued toward Highway TT. The driver attempted to turn onto Highway TT but failed to navigate the turn and drove off the road striking a St. Clair city limits and speed limit sign and then struck two parked vehicles.
According to the sheriff’s office, a passenger fled on foot but was quickly arrested by deputies and a Missouri State Highway Patrol Trooper.
The driver, Cody T. J. Utz, 25, Union, was arrested and has been charged with unlawful possession of a firearm, unlawful possession of drug paraphernalia, and resisting arrest. His bond was set at $4,900, authorities said.
The front passenger, Branden E. Wilken, 26, St Clair, had an active warrant for possession of a controlled substance and unlawful use of a firearm, both felonies. A female passenger, Lindsey M. Harrison, 23, St. Clair, was taken into custody for an outstanding warrant through Arnold police. A 19-year-old female passenger from St. Clair was released at the scene.
In the third incident, deputies were roadside on Highway 30 near Bethel Church Road checking the welfare of a pedestrian when a blue Pontiac Grand Prix drove past them at a speed estimated over 100 miles per hour and in close proximity to the deputies, according to the sheriff’s office.
Deputies attempted to stop the car that was westbound on Highway 30 and then turned north onto Riverbend Road. A state trooper spotted the vehicle speeding and attempted to stop it.
Authorities pursued the car for several miles before the driver stopped the car at Barton Road and Bethel Church Road.
The driver, Christopher R. Grant, 36, Sullivan, was taken into custody on felony warrants for two counts of distribution of a controlled substance and one count of tampering with evidence.
Near the vehicle was a black bag containing several items of drug paraphernalia common with use and distribution as well a white powdery substance suspected to be narcotics, according to the sheriff’s office.
Grant admitted that the bag was his and stated that he fled because he there were several warrants for his arrest.
New charges were filed against Grant for failure to yield to an emergency vehicle, careless and imprudent driving, displaying plates of another, possession of drug paraphernalia, resisting arrest and possession of a controlled substance.