UPDATED with VIDEO: Suspect identified in 2-county high-speed chase; deputy involved in crash

Video courtesy of Abby Heyder

TOQUERVILLE – A high-speed chase that started in Kanab Tuesday evening reached its conclusion when a suspect who allegedly stole a car crashed the vehicle in Toquerville.

The suspect is in custody at the Washington County Purgatory Correctional Facility Tuesday night and is being held on $25,550 bail, according to information from the Washington County Sheriff’s Office.

Austin Gomez of Tempe, Arizona, booking photo posted April 21, 2015 | Photo courtesy of Washington County Sheriff's bookings, St. George News
Austin Gomez of Tempe, Arizona, booking photo posted April 21, 2015 | Photo courtesy of Washington County Sheriff’s bookings, St. George News

Shortly after 7 p.m., Kane County Sheriff’s deputies began pursuing a suspect who allegedly stole a car in Kanab. The suspect has been identified as Austin Gomez, listed as a transient out of Tempe, Arizona.

Kane County Sheriff Tracy Glover said he and his deputies were conducting training in east Zion and had a Department of Safety helicopter there assisting with the training when the chase began, so they were able to assist quickly.

“They just happened to be in the area,” he said.

The helicopter took a deputy into the air to give aerial assistance.

The chase began on Highway 89 in Kane County and moved to state Route 9 in Washington County. Only one person, the suspect, was in the vehicle, Glover said.

The pursuit turned into a high-speed chase that reached speeds of 100 mph as it progressed. Gomez led emergency responders through Zion National Park, Springdale and Virgin before crashing the stolen vehicle in Toquerville.

A press release from the Washington County Sheriff’s Office said:

Park rangers from Zion National Park assisted with the pursuit as it passed through their jurisdiction and into the town of Springdale. Springdale Police assisted in the chase as it passed through their jurisdiction. A Patrol Sergeant with the Sheriff’s Office was able to successfully deploy spike strips on the suspect vehicle, deflating two of the tires, just west of the Town of Virgin.

As the stolen car, a Mitsubishi Lancer, continued toward LaVerkin, deputies were able to assist the LaVerkin Police Department in diverting the chase onto state Route 17 and toward the interstate, according to the press release.

Gomez failed to slow down sufficiently while approaching a sheriff’s vehicle and struck it from behind, the press release said. The deputy was not injured in the collision and was able to continue assisting in the pursuit.

A Deputy was able to successfully perform a PIT maneuver on the suspect vehicle, disabling it near the Ashcreek Bridge,” the press release said. “The suspect fled on foot and was apprehended shortly after.”

“From what I understand, he (the suspect) wasn’t injured,” Glover said.

This report is based on preliminary information provided by law enforcement or other emergency responders and may not contain the full scope of findings.

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