Red Deer police call in helicopter to aid in pursuit

Eyes in the sky helped police make a takedown in a case that has frustrated Red Deer City RCMP for the last two weeks.

Eyes in the sky helped police make a takedown in a case that has frustrated Red Deer City RCMP for the last two weeks.

Late Thursday morning, local police units cornered a car and arrested the driver after numerous previous attempts failed. The red Volkswagen first drew suspicion when a police officer conducting a routine check noted that its plate number didn’t match the vehicle.

Police have encountered the car four times over the past two weeks, but the driver was able to avoid apprehension each time, said Const. Chris Kosack, media resource officer for the Red Deer City RCMP.

This time, they had help from an RCMP helicopter brought to Red Deer to aid in the search for a missing person, said Kosack.

The helicopter was diverted at about 9:50 a.m. when a patrolling police officer noticed the suspect car at Gaetz Avenue and 71st Street, near the site where the helicopter was searching.

Officers in the helicopter kept the suspect vehicle in view and directed officers on the ground, who made various attempts to bring it to a stop as it sped through the city, running through Kentwood, Chiles Industrial Park, Riverside Industrial Park, Riverside Meadows, Deer Park, Mountview, Rotary Park, South Hill and West Park.

At one point in a pursuit that lasted almost an hour, two elderly pedestrians narrowly avoided being hit as they attempted to cross the intersection at 43rd Street and 52d Avenue.

Spikebelts were deployed a number of times, but the driver was able to get around them by leaving the roadway, driving erratically and ignoring traffic signs and signals, Kosack said.

Although the suspect was aware of the police helicopter, he was unaware of the police vehilces following, said Kosack. Pursuing officers used unmarked vehicles and did not use their lights or sirens, taking direction from the helicopter.

The chase ended abruptly at about 10:45 a.m. when the car crashed into a cement barrier at Red Deer College.

The car was immediately blocked in by a number of police vehicles and a 20-year-old man was arrested at the scene.

By the time the arrest was made, the pursuit involved City of Red Deer traffic enforcement officers as well as various RCMP units, including air services, general investigation services, police dog services, Blackfalds detachment, highway patrol and Innisfail freeway patrol, said Kosack.

Two unmarked police vehicles were damaged during the pursuit, he said. One was struck during one of the spikebelt attempts and the other was struck when the suspect vehicle was boxed in.

The suspect, whose name has not yet been released, is being held pending charges and a bail hearing.

Initial investigation indicates that the vehicle was not stolen, said Kosack.

Investigators would like to hear from the two people who were nearly struck as the car sped through the city centre. Kosack asked that they contact the city detachment at 403-343-5575.