Franklin County Sheriff's Department

Kurtis J. Birke, 36, Union, was killed when his truck overturned following a pursuit involving Franklin County Sheriff’s deputies on Highway YY near Highway 185 outside New Haven.

Sheriff Steve Pelton said a deputy observed Birke’s Chevrolet Silverado driving at a high rate of speed just after 11 p.m. Friday evening.

The deputy pulled out behind the vehicle going westbound on Highway YY and measured its speed using his in-car radar at 64 mph in a posted 55 mph speed zone. 

As the deputy attempted to close the distance on the vehicle, Birke began to pull away and his speed was then measured at 81 mph in a posted 55 mph zone.

The deputy also observed Birke using the eastbound lane of traffic to traverse around curves and driving over the centerline of the roadway into the eastbound lane of traffic on several occasions. 

When a traffic stop was attempted, Birke gradually slowed down into the 60s as if he was going to find a driveway to pull into, while still driving into the oncoming lane of traffic. 

Pelton said Birke passed several driveways and then sped up again to speeds over 70 mph.  

Birke drove through the four-way intersection of Highway YY and Highway 185, failing to stop at the stop sign to continue west at approximately 70 mph. 

Birke lost control of the vehicle and ran off the right side of Highway YY and immediately back across the roadway and off the left side of Highway YY where he ultimately struck a group of trees and came to rest. 

Fire and EMS were dispatched to the scene and the deputy exited his patrol vehicle and approached the truck. 

Pelton said the trees and brush were so thick around the cab area of the truck, the deputy was unable to see if there were any occupants still inside from the driver side. He then approached the passenger side of the vehicle and observed Birke lying across the seat of the vehicle. 

The deputy attempted to get Birke’s attention and was able to break the passenger side window and reach in to make physical contact with Birke in hopes he could wake him up. 

Fire and EMS personnel entered the vehicle and Birke was placed in an ambulance for life-saving measures. 

Birke was pronounced dead at the scene by EMS personnel. 

Missouri State Highway Patrol was requested and arrived at the scene to investigate the crash.