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Southern Utah News Front Page: June 25, 2015
High speed chase in two states leads to arrest of two
A UHP helicopter followed the high speed chase from Page to Johnson Canyon to keep tabs on the runaway vehicle. Photo by Mary Ellen Craven.
By Dixie Brunner
The situation had all the trappings of a Hollywood movie. Potential hostage...high speed chase...numerous law enforcement agencies...helicopters...papers thrown out of windows...gas masks...
But wait – this is Kane County, and it isn’t the movies, it’s real life! Tourists and residents alike felt the pain when the June 18 event occurred. Traffic was backed up and diverted for several hours, when the incident happened on Highway 89 east of town, near Johnson Canyon and the former Stampin’ Up building. And fortunately, the suspects eventually surrendered after being stopped by the Utah Highway Patrol and the Kane County Sheriff’s Office Tactical Unit.
It all began at 1:19 p.m. when the Coconino Sheriff’s Office Lieutenant who manages the Page Patrol Division received a call from the FBI, with a report that an individual had been taken against his will. The FBI provided information, including the victim, vehicle description and direction of travel.
The lieutenant initiated a regional attempt to locate the vehicle, with all northern Arizona law enforcement agencies, as well as the National Park Service, involved. An Arizona DPS officer and a Coconino Sheriff’s Office Sergeant located the vehicle northbound on Highway 89. They attempted a high risk stop on the vehicle, and administered commands to the occupants to leave the vehicle. The occupants did not follow those commands.
The driver instead maneuvered through construction, and continued north on Highway 89, with officers in pursuit, at speeds reaching 100 mph. Page officers and National Park Rangers attempted to stop them by deploying stop sticks (designed to deflate tires gradually). However, it appeared that the driver avoided the stop sticks at all four locations.
At one point, a Page officer fired his duty weapon at the suspect. No one was struck. (An investigation is pending.)
There was a continued pursuit through Page and east on Highway 89...into Utah. As the vehicle fled, the occupants were throwing things out of the window, including miscellaneous papers.
Milepost 54.9 on Highway 89 was when the vehicle veered to the side of the road. Apparently, the tireless wheels (with the help of tire spikes from Kane County and the UHP) were hard to drive on!
Pursuing officers, once again, gave commands to exit the vehicle. The suspects did not oblige, refusing to follow law enforcement commands. They continued to throw items out of the car, including an empty handgun holster. The two men in the suspect car also waved an American flag, and a second unidentified flag as well. At least one of the occupants donned a gas mask over his face.
Eventually, the fiasco came to a close when the driver, who was supposedly the kidnap victim, exited the vehicle. The suspect in the passenger seat then got out and ran, but was promptly apprehended. Both were taken into custody by the Kane County Sheriff’s Office Tactical Unit, and booked into the Kane County Jail, facing numerous charges.
The driver, Thomas Lee Wisbey, was charged with Evading-Fleeing by Vehicle, Failure to Obey Traffic Officer, Improper Lane Travel/Change, Speeding-Impeding Traffic, Littering, Damaging Highway/Bridge, Reckless Driving, Unsafe Vehicle, Failure to Stop at Command of Law Enforcement, Brakes Required, Failure to Yield to Emergency Vehicles, Obstructing Justice. Bail was set at $9,730. He was released on June 18, after posting bail.
Passenger Christoper Paul Lindfors was charged with Material on Highway, Failure to Obey Traffic Officer, Interference with Arresting Officer and Obstructing Justice/Tampering with Evidence. Bail totaled $4,580.
Both suspects have to appear in court on Thursday, June 25.
Authorities determined they were acquaintances and there was no kidnapping.