NEWTON, Kan. (KSNW) – Newton Police Chief Eric Murphy says a Salina man is now facing a large number of hefty fines, after fleeing officers at speeds up to 120 mph. It happened just after midnight Friday in Harvey County.
“Felony fleeing and elude, he had a suspended license, speeding in two counties and two cities,” says Chief Murphy. “He’s looking at some hefty fines.”
Murphy says the suspect fled just after midnight, after Kansas Highway Patrol issued an alert for a speeding motorcycle on Interstate 135 in Newton. The man was caught later in Wichita after he fell off the cycle at the entrance of McConnell Air Force Base, just off Rock Road.
KSN asked Chief Murphy why they decided to chase the suspect.
“We have to closely weigh a lot of factors as to whether or not we are going to pursue someone. If this was three in the afternoon during the week, or if it were in a school zone during the school day, we would obviously not pursue,” says Murphy. “But this was after midnight and we were closely monitoring traffic conditions and speeds. Public safety will always outweigh a pursuit.”
Murphy says one of his officers noticed the motorcycle after his department was alerted by KHP.
“I get an alert on any potential chase, so I was listening in,” says Murphy. “This cycle rider had actually been involved in a chase (earlier Friday evening) with a KHP trooper. Our officer spotted him and tried to stop him. It was a male passenger and a female sitting on the back of the bike.”
Murphy says the driver of the cycle slowed enough at one point and the female got off the bike.
“It was still safe to pursue, traffic conditions were not such that public safety was compromised,” explains Murphy. “That’s always the big question, whether to keep going or to terminate the pursuit. Once in Wichita (I-135) the cycle slowed enough, the passenger got off and one of the officers picked up female and took her into custody.”
The pursuit ended with the suspect falling off the bike.
“The pursuit led up to the entrance of McConnell Air Force Base,” says Murphy. “And the driver tried to make a u-turn and he fell off the cycle at about five to ten miles an hour. It was just a slow turnaround. And that was it.”
Murphy says the bike may have belonged to a friend.
“It wasn’t even his bike. Early indications are the bike may belong to a friend of the suspect,” says Murphy.
The driver of the cycle was treated for scrapes he received when he fell off the bike. He is now in custody and is facing multiple charges. Murphy also says much of the chase involved much lower speeds, but the top speed for the cycle was 120 miles an hour at one point.
“Once it got into Wichita, the speeds were not aggressive enough to terminate the pursuit,” says Murphy. “But he’s in custody, and he’s looking at a long list of fines.”