Drug task force nabs man who took them on high-speed chase

ST. GEORGE – A St. George man is in jail after allegedly leading police on a high-speed chase Wednesday night that reached speeds of over 80 mph.

Washington County Drug Task Force detectives were watching a home in the area of 2650 East and 175 North where 30-year-old Marco Dunigan resides. Dunigan had an outstanding warrant out for his arrest and police were waiting for an opportunity to apprehend him, St. George Police Capt. Kyle Whitehead said.

Wednesday night, a task force detective in plain clothes observed a man he recognized as Dunigan getting into a black Chevrolet Impala parked alongside the road in front of the home, according to a probable cause statement. Before getting into the car, Dunigan looked around the area “in what appeared to be countersurveillance.”

The plain clothes detective told another detective in a police car nearby to pull up behind the Impala with the emergency lights activated. The Impala began to pull away and the detective followed. At this point, the plain clothes detective identified himself as law enforcement and ordered Dunigan to stop. Dunigan drove right past the detective.

The detective in the police car pursued Dunigan into Washington City, the Washington Fields area, the southern part of St. George, into the Arizona Strip and eventually onto Interstate 15. Dunigan was pursued by both the task force and St. George Police. Dunigan drove speeds in excess of 80 mph through residential and commercial areas, according to the probable cause statement. He also drove off the road and went the wrong way in traffic lanes.

During the pursuit, the detective followed Dunigan onto a narrow dirt road. He reported that Dunigan turned the Impala around and was headed right for his car at a high rate of speed. The detective put his car in reverse and backed off the road. He estimated Dunigan’s car missed his own by about a foot when he passed by.

The vehicle pursuit was ultimately called off around 10:45 p.m. when Dunigan drove into Arizona. It is believed he went to Mesquite, Neveda, Whitehead said.

Task force detectives were handed a second chance to apprehend Dunigan early Friday morning when he was discovered to be hiding out at a hotel in St. George. Detectives moved in and arrested Dunigan after observing him getting into the passenger side of another man’s car at the hotel.

Detectives found substances on Dunigan’s person they believed to be marijuana and heroin. A search of his hotel room produced what is described in a probable cause statement as possible methamphetamine and associated drug paraphernalia.

Related to the high-speed pursuit, Dunigan has been charged with a second-degree felony for assault against a police officer – for nearly ramming the detective’s car, Whitehead said – one third-degree felony for failure to stop/respond to a police officer’s command, one class-A misdemeanor for failure to stop/respond to a police officer’s command, and two class-B misdemeanors for reckless driving and driving with a revoked license.

Drug charges related to the arrest at the hotel include three third-degree felonies for possession of a controlled substance and two class-B misdemeanors for drug paraphernalia.

Dunigan was booked into Washington County’s Purgatory Correctional Facility around 1:30 a.m. Friday and made an initial appearance in Fifth District Court Friday afternoon.

Dunigan was out on pretrial release from two previous search warrant cases, according to the probable cause statement.

Whitehead said the man who let Dunigan into his car at the hotel was 31-year-old Joseph Andre Walthall. Walthall also had his name attached to an arrest warrant and was taken into custody as well, Whitehead said.

Persons arrested or charged are presumed innocent until found guilty in a court of law or as otherwise decided by a trier-of-fact.

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Twitter: @MoriKessler

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2014, all rights reserved.

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  • Recyclebiz June 20, 2014 at 9:22 pm

    I thought the speed limit everywhere south of Payson was 85 mph?

    • KanabCowgirl June 20, 2014 at 10:16 pm

      Not in a residential area. There’s children there that could have gotten hurt. I for 1 am glad he’s in jail so he can’t put anymore children in danger.

  • LOL STUPID June 20, 2014 at 10:27 pm

    Um, if he didn’t touch the officer or his car, he didn’t assault him. Wow, whoever gave him that charge should probably study up on their statutes. Cause, there was no physical contact of any kind. If the Detective just so happened to have gotten hit.. then it’s legit.

    • Lol ur stupid.. June 21, 2014 at 11:39 am

      Looks like you need to study up on your statutes boss, Cause that charge totally fits..

    • t June 21, 2014 at 12:08 pm

      Take your own advice and read the code stupid. 76-5-102 and 103. No contact has to be made- just a show of force.

    • LOL at your comment. June 21, 2014 at 12:45 pm

      The Utah Penal Code defines Assault as:

      (a) an attempt, with unlawful force or violence, to do bodily injury to another;
      (b) a threat, accompanied by a show of immediate force or violence, to do bodily injury to another; or
      (c) an act, committed with unlawful force or violence, that causes bodily injury to another or creates a substantial risk of bodily injury to another.

      Looks like the charge against him is “legit.”

  • Laurie O June 21, 2014 at 3:12 am

    80 mph as far as I am aware.

  • tinker toys June 21, 2014 at 3:33 am

    Since the police knew who the suspect was I question the choice to continue a pursuit at high speeds through residential areas. That is putting local families at risk for nothing.

  • Upset mom June 21, 2014 at 2:10 pm

    How dare the police conduct a high speed chase through residential areas. Other cities have taken a no chase policy preferring to put the safety of their citizens first. The police are the ones who would’ve responsible if their pursuit had resulted in tragedy.

  • philiplo June 24, 2014 at 8:19 am

    I like that the detective!”put his car in reserve.” What was he reserving it for? And the,man went to “Neveda?” Is that anywhere near Cafilornia?

    • Joyce Kuzmanic June 24, 2014 at 9:53 am

      Thannnnnnk youuuuuuu philipio. Got that cleaned up, with a smile.

  • Kk November 18, 2014 at 9:59 am

    So, this is my family. And he’s pretty ticked up. He’s stupid and he deserves every charge he gets..and he’ll go to prison or whatever, and hell get out eventually but until he doesn’t want to keep living in the past, he will never stop.

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