Saturday, December 20, 2014

Three hurt in crash after police chase

By DOUG CARDER, Senior Writer | 4/2/2014

A 1997 Ford Expedition that had fled from Ottawa patrol officers Tuesday night was involved in a fiery crash in northern Franklin County a short time after the pursuit had ended, according to law enforcement officials.

The Expedition driven by Steven Lee Gibson, 34, Ottawa, was going the wrong direction up the southbound ramp to U.S. 59 from Stafford Road when it reached the top of the ramp, crossed Stafford Road, went into a ditch and struck a concrete drain tube about 10:35 p.m. Tuesday, according to a Kansas Highway Patrol report.

The vehicle caught fire, and Franklin County Sheriff’s deputies and Ottawa police officers were able to get Gibson and his two passengers to safety, Capt. Adam Weingartner, with the Ottawa Police Department, said.

“The pursuing officers lost sight of the vehicle and stopped the pursuit near U.S. 59 and Stafford Road, when [Gibson] went the wrong way on the ramp. Our officers did not follow him [going in the wrong direction],” Weingartner said. “Officers broke off the pursuit because they had already identified the driver through prior contact. The police units involved were returning to Ottawa when a deputy with the [Franklin County] Sheriff’s Office located the vehicle off the roadway near the intersection of Stafford and U.S. 59.”

The pursuit began about 10:25 p.m. in the 700 block of North Main Street in Ottawa when a patrol officer attempted to pull Gibson over for a traffic infraction, Weingartner said, and then continued on Old U.S. 59.

Gibson was transported to a Kansas City area hospital with undisclosed injuries. His condition was unknown Wednesday afternoon, but the highway patrol report described his condition as “disabled.”

His two passengers, Juliann Marie Mendoza, 18, and Alejandro J. Gonzales, 16, both of Ottawa, also received undisclosed injuries but neither were transported to a hospital, the highway patrol report indicated.

All three occupants were wearing seat belts, the report said.

“The driver was injured in the crash and was not arrested,” Weingartner said.

But on the previous evening, Ottawa police officers did arrest Gibson 11:17 p.m. Monday in the 400 block of South Main Street on suspicion of possession of methamphetamine, possession of paraphernalia and driving with a suspended license, according to a police report.

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