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ATWOOD, KS – According to reports, a 23 year-old man in Kansas Highway Patrol custody, who had been handcuffed behind his back, nonetheless managed to steal a patrol car and lead authorities on a wild chase while hitting speeds of up to 100 miles per hour this past Saturday.
Joshua D. Swartwout of Naples, Florida, had originally been arrested on Saturday after allegedly fleeing police in a stolen vehicle. The suspect was in the process of being transported to a detention facility by a Kansas Highway Patrol trooper at approximately 12 p.m. when the officer noticed a motorcycle accident on Highway 25 near Atwood in northwest Kansas and pulled over to assist; Swartwout was left alone in the patrol car, according to Kansas Highway Patrol spokesman Tod Hileman.
“We don’t normally do that, but this trooper saw this accident occur right in front of him and it was in a rural area,” he said. “Being trained as a highway patrol trooper, it’s ingrained that you will help.”
Swartwout, who was seated in the front seat of the patrol car since the vehicle was not equipped with a partition or cage in the back seat, managed to slip into the driver’s seat and sped away from the accident scene – all with his hands handcuffed behind his back – leaving the trooper behind.
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“As a high-speed pursuit driving instructor for 20 years, I can only assume he was using his knees,” Hileman said.
The trooper used his radio to report the incident, and responding units spotted Swartwout heading south on Highway 25 and began to pursue him, with the suspect leading officers on a 30-mile chase that hit 100 MPH at points on a narrow, two-lane highway lined with ditches on either side, officials say.
The chase finally ended when the suspect’s stolen patrol car finally ran out of gas on Interstate 70 near the border of Colorado, according to police; at that point, Swartwout ditched the vehicle and attempted to escape on foot, but was quickly nabbed and taken to Sherman County Jail, where he was finally booked on possession of stolen property; fleeing or attempting to elude; interference with law enforcement officer; criminal damage to property; reckless driving; speeding; driving on left in no passing zone; improper driving on laned roadway.