A 34-year-old New Carlisle, Ohio man pleaded guilty to two charges Monday for his role in leading authorities on a high-speed chase on Sept. 2 that resulted in two Fayette County Sheriff’s Office patrol vehicles colliding.
Joshua A. Walters will be sentenced on Nov. 19 in Fayette County Common Pleas Court after being convicted of third-degree felony failure to comply and fourth-degree felony possession of heroin counts. He is facing a maximum sentence of four-and-a-half years in prison, according to Fayette County Prosecutor Jess Weade.
On Sept. 2 shortly after 7 a.m. in northwest Fayette County, the FCSO received a call of a motorist heading south on State Route 41 Northwest in the northbound lane of travel. Deputies responded to intercept the vehicle as additional calls were being received by the Sheriff’s Communication Center, indicating the suspect vehicle had nearly struck a school bus head-on and was continuing south on State Route 41.
Cpl. Jon Fausnaugh encountered the vehicle near the intersection of State Route 41 and Prairie Road and tried to make a traffic stop, according to Fayette County Sheriff Vernon Stanforth. After Fausnaugh activated his emergency lights, the suspect vehicle accelerated and the driver refused to stop.
Deputy Dirk Witherspoon approached the area and joined the pursuit of the vehicle along with Fausnaugh. The suspect vehicle reportedly continued south on State Route 41 (North North Street) into Washington C.H. at excessive speeds.
Washington Police Department officers Ron Shackelford and Charlie Hughes responded to assist the deputies and encountered the vehicle at the intersection of North North Street and Market Street. The vehicle nearly struck Shackelford’s police vehicle head-on, Stanforth said.
The pursuit continued south on North Street crossing East Court Street and continued south on South North Street at excessive speeds. At the intersection of South North Street and East Elm Street, Fausnaugh slowed his vehicle to turn east onto Elm Street, but was unable to make the turn and continued into the intersection.
Witherspoon’s vehicle struck the rear of Fausnaugh’s cruiser after attempting to maneuver left to avoid a collision, according to Stanforth. Following the crash, Fausnaugh’s cruiser was forced into the rear of a legally parked Chevrolet Colorado pick-up truck, owned by Ralph D. Warner of Washington C.H.
Witherspoon reportedly suffered minor injuries in the crash and was transported from the scene by Fayette County EMS to Fayette County Memorial Hospital, where he was treated and later released. Fausnaugh suffered no injuries in the crash. Both cruisers sustained heavy damage and were towed from the scene.
Shackelford and Hughes continued pursuit of the suspect vehicle south on Robinson Road after leaving the city limits and continued for several miles at excessive speeds, Stanforth said. The suspect vehicle briefly entered Ross County on Plano Road before turning west on Old Route 35 and re-entering Fayette County.
“Stop sticks” were successfully deployed at the intersection of Old Route 35 and Camp Grove Road, which slowed the vehicle as it continued to flee officers. As the vehicle exited off Old Route 35 and turned north on State Route 753, Hughes positioned his patrol vehicle for a “precision immobilization technique,” or PIT maneuver, which is a pursuit tactic by which a pursuing law enforcement vehicle can force a fleeing vehicle to abruptly turn sideways, causing the driver to lose control and stop.
The suspect vehicle attempted a right turn onto U.S. 35 West as the first PIT maneuver was unsuccessful, according to Stanforth. As the suspect vehicle entered the westbound lanes of U.S. 35, a second PIT maneuver by Hughes was successful and the suspect vehicle went off the left side of the roadway into the median before coming to rest.
The driver of the vehicle (a 2014 Nissan Sentra), identified as Joshua A. Walters, was taken into custody without incident. During an inventory search of the vehicle prior to it being towed, deputies recovered a substance “presumptively identified” as heroin inside the vehicle, as well as drug abuse instruments, according to Stanforth.
Reach Ryan Carter at 740-313-0352 or on Twitter @rywica.