A 15-minute pursuit across eastern Jasper County ended Friday when the pickup being pursued crashed into a telephone pole in a Sarcoxie residential neighborhood and the driver and passenger scattered near Sarcoxie High School, forcing the school into a lockdown.

A 15-minute pursuit across eastern Jasper County ended Friday when the pickup being pursued crashed into a telephone pole in a Sarcoxie residential neighborhood and the driver and passenger scattered near Sarcoxie High School, forcing the school into a lockdown.

Jasper County Chief Deputy Sheriff Kelly Stephens said three people, the driver, Johnny Lee Jones, 25, Marionville; passenger Jason Dale Stanley, 26, Marionville; and passenger Dana Sue Smith, 35, Carthage, were arrested after their truck hit a telephone pole behind a home at 16th Street and Linda Lane.

Stephens said Smith was arrested at the truck, but the two men fled. He said Stanley bailed out of the truck before the crash near Sarcoxie High School, while the driver, Jones, fled after the crash.

Jones was arrested in a home on Franklin Street near 17th Street. Stephens said it appeared that the door to the home had been kicked in and Jones was found inside. Stephens said Stanley was arrested about 15 minutes later in a field about a half-mile west of Sarcoxie High School.

All three were taken to the Jasper County Jail.

Theresa Ross, who lives next door to the home where the driver was arrested, said she wondered why the people in the truck decided to come to her backyard to crash their truck.

"I just don't know why they ended up here, I don't recognize any of them," Ross said. "This is a pretty quiet neighborhood and I'd just rather not see any more lights and sirens for a while."

Ross said she believed it was about 12:05 p.m. when she first heard a loud noise in her backyard, which abuts the yard where the truck crashed.

At first she just thought it was trash cans or something else blowing around in the high winds that were blowing, then she spotted a man running to the south across her front yard.

Missouri State Highway Patrol troopers and Jasper County Sheriff's Deputies swarmed over the neighborhood and she told one of them what she saw.

Another neighbor, George Nelson, said he checked all the outbuildings and doors on his property to make sure no one was hiding in his yard.

"I didn't see anyone around, and I thought the sirens were fire trucks at first," Nelson said.

Stephens said officers called Sarcoxie High School and a nursing home in the area to warn them to lock their doors.

Sarcoxie High School Principal John Ihm said students were at lunch at the High School and Middle School when the first call came warning that the pursuit was headed toward Sarcoxie.

Ihm said teachers and officials let students return to their classrooms, then locked the school down, and stationed teachers at the doors to make sure no one broke in.

"The only way to get into the school is through a door that is watched by video and monitored," Ihm said. "All the other doors are locked, but we tool the additional precaution of stationing teachers at the doors to make sure no one got in. We only waited about 15 or 20 minutes before the Sheriff called to say it was all clear, so this didn't disrupt the school day at all."

A long pursuit
Stephens said the incident began shortly after noon on Friday when Deputy Jason Brown spotted a pickup truck with three occupants acting suspiciously east of Carthage near County Road 70 and Missouri Highway 96.

Stephens said Brown checked the license tag number, but misread the number the first time he read it because of a wire hanging down in front of the plate.

Stephens said the first license number reported came back to a Ford, which piqued the officers interest because it was on a Chevy. The corrected license tag number came back to a vehicle that was reported as possibly stolen vehicle.

Stephens said Brown then activated his lights and siren to stop the vehicle. Initially, the truck stopped in a driveway and the occupants made movements like they were going to cooperate, but as Brown walked toward the vehicle, the driver gunned the motor and fled.

"If we're talking straight as the crow flies, it's about 10 to 12 miles from where the chase began on County Road 70 to here in Sarcoxie," Stephens said. "However, the pursuit did a lot of zigzagging around on county roads. Maximum speed that was reported was about 75 miles per hour. The roads this time of day, with daytime and dry weather, we were on rural county roads and really no traffic, so the deputy made the decision to keep pursuing. Speeds were not as such that it was in the danger zone as far as that goes. In listening to the pursuit over the radio, the deputy did a terrific job calling out the pursuit over the radio. He did a great job of giving us directions."

Prior arrests
A check of court records in the state's CaseNet database showed that Jones was wanted in Lawrence County.

Jones was charged with second degree assault in July 2006, but he failed to appear for court hearings after September 2007. Additional felony charges of second degree assault, armed criminal action and tampering with a motor vehicle were filed against Jones in July 2007.

Another felony count of failure to appear in court was filed against Jones in August 2007. The court records showed that Jones had not been arrested on any of the charges filed against him in 2007.

Stanley pleaded guilty to misdemeanor trespassing June 2007 for an incident that happened in January 2006 and was sentenced to two years of unsupervised probation.

No previous criminal record was found in CaseNet for Smith.

Carthage Press