140 mph car chase from Utah ends in Eagle County

Post Independent crime news graphic

Two men were arrested Wednesday for allegedly leading law enforcement on a multi-state car chase that damaged a Parachute police car — and carrying large quantities of drugs.

Deputy District Attorney Tony Hershey said the chase endangered hundreds of lives.

“This is a car chase that covered two states and three counties, and put, I would say, hundreds of lives at risk. Fortunately, we’re in a quarantine and there are not many drivers,” Hershey said during a teleconference advisement hearing Thursday.

The driver, 34-year-old Andre Watkins, faces multiple felony and misdemeanor charges, including distribution of a schedule 1 drug which carries a maximum prison sentence of 30 years.

According to a probable cause document filed in the 9th District Court, law enforcement started following a speeding Chevrolet Camaro in Utah. Colorado State Patrol picked up the chase briefly in Mesa County on Interstate 70, where the car was allegedly traveling between 130 and 140 mph.

Colorado State Patrol informed the Parachute Police Department to be on the lookout, as the car would likely have to stop to refuel.

A Parachute officer spotted a white Camaro with a black convertible roof, and followed as it exited the highway in Parachute to get gas.

Around 4:50 p.m. Wednesday, the Parachute officer approached the Camaro at the gas station.

“As I drove closer to the vehicle, it accelerated towards me at a high rate of speed veering to my left and narrowly avoid hitting my vehicle and the fuel pumps,” the Parachute officer wrote in an affidavit.

The chase resumed, and the car tried to make a wide turn in the Turkey Park area, spun in the grass and started heading toward the officer’s car.

“I had to turn hard to the right as the vehicle seemed to turn at the very last moment and the front driver’s side door collided with the front of my vehicle,” the officer wrote.

The officer was uninjured.

The collision damaged the bumper of the patrol car, estimated to cost about $300 to repair.

The chase resumed with state patrol and other agencies pursuing the car east on I-70 through Glenwood Canyon.

The car exited the highway at Grizzly Creek, then proceeded eastbound in the westbound lanes of the upper deck — which is currently closed for construction.

The car crossed back to travel in the eastbound lanes at the Hanging Lake exit.

Westbound traffic at the Hanging Lake Tunnel was shut down temporarily, then eastbound traffic was stopped at the tunnel while law enforcement pursued the vehicle into Eagle County.

Law enforcement tried unsuccessfully to end the chase using stop strips multiple times as the car “made extremely aggressive maneuvers to avoid running over the strips,” according to the affidavit.

The vehicle passed several other cars on the shoulder, and at one point passed between two semi-tractor trucks on the two-lane freeway.

It is believed that Camaro came to a stop after it ran out of gas near the town of Eagle, according to the affidavit, and the two men fled south on foot. Watkins and the passenger, who is 25, were arrested at gunpoint after a brief foot chase.

In the trunk of the Camaro, state troopers found “three large garbage bags containing a green leafy substance which smelled like marijuana,” and a pound of pills that later tested positive as Ecstasy/MDMA.

Both suspects are from Illinois. Judge Denise Lynch set Watkins’ bond at $1,000, and the passenger received a personal recognizance bond with $1,500 attached to it.

The two suspects are required to appear either in person or by phone for an arraignment May 12.

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