A 33-year-old Wilmington man was in jail Monday after allegedly leading authorities on a high speed chase for about 40 miles, at times reaching speeds of up to 95 miles per hour.
Sgt. Adam Day of the Hillsboro Police Department said James R. Knauff was taken to the Highland County jail after his arrest and is facing charges of receiving stolen property, failure to comply with the order or signal of a police officer, and drug possession.
According to an HPD dispatcher, the pursuit began at about 8 a.m. after it was reported that a white SUV was driving erratically southbound on North High Street.
Day said the vehicle was reportedly weaving in and out of lanes and changing speeds.
“I made contact with the suspect in front of Sherwood Auto Sales on North High Street,” Day told The Times-Gazette. “After I turned around, I observed the vehicle making two lane violations by going left of center.”
Day said the driver made a right turn into the lot between Burger King and Taco Bell after Day initiated a traffic stop with lights and sirens, at which point the vehicle paused at the stop sign at Fenner Drive. At that point, a passenger emerged, facing the officer with his hands on his head, according to Day.
The driver of the SUV then fled the scene, heading westbound on Fenner and then going northbound on North West Street (SR 73), Day said.
“I notified dispatch that the vehicle had bailed on me,” Day said, “and they advised me that the SUV was reported as stolen from Wilmington.”
At that point, the chase was on. Day said that by the time the vehicle reached the Fallsville Wildlife Area on SR 73, it was passing other cars at a high rate of speed on a double yellow line, at one point forcing a silver truck off the road in the oncoming lane.
Day said the vehicle went through Fallsville, got on Careytown Road and ended up on SR 28 near New Vienna. The vehicle then turned on Church Street before getting back on SR 73 and heading toward Wilmington, according to Day.
From there, the pursuit took a turn onto SR 350 and continued through Cuba before turning right onto SR 730 toward Wilmington, Day said.
The SUV eventually caught up with a school bus, which Day said was not carrying children, and the pursuit slowed down. At that point, Day and a backup officer were able to arrest the suspect, Day said.
“We initiated a felony stop,” he said, “and myself and Sgt. Craig Seaman of the Highland County Sheriff’s Office apprehended James R. Knauff and took him into custody.”
In addition to the Highland County Sheriff’s Office, Day thanked the Wilmington Post of the Ohio State Highway Patrol and the Clinton County Sheriff’s Office for assistance.
Reach Tim Colliver at 937-402-2571.