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Sober driver leads high-speed chase, police say

Sober driver leads high-speed chase, police say

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Why did a sober, middle-aged man lead Butte police on a dangerous, high-speed chase through Butte and on the interstate early Thursday?

"I just always wanted to do that," he said, according to the Butte police report.

John C. Hughes, 55, is accused of trying to evade a police patrol by driving at high speeds through Butte and on the interstate just to see what it would be like, police reported.

Hughes likely found out it involved severe tire damage, because police used "stop sticks" to deflate his tires during the chase in order to get him to stop, according to the police report. Hughes was arrested without further incident and faces a misdemeanor charge of reckless driving while eluding police.

Investigators say Hughes wasn't intoxicated and they didn't find drugs or other contraband in his vehicle. Sheriff John Walsh said the man allegedly told officers afterward that he always wanted to see what it would be like to be in a chase with police.

"That's the first time I've ever heard of anything like that," the sheriff said.

The incident started about 3:25 a.m. when the driver of a 2007 Nissan Xterra started tailgating a police patrol for about seven blocks while driving east on Front Street. The driver then pulled into the center lane and drove away at a high rate of speed south on Harrison Avenue.

Police say the driver was traveling at more than 70 mph and refused to pull over. Eventually the driver pulled over in the 2500 block of Harrison, but then took off again as the officer arrived, and headed onto the interstate.

The suspect continued driving toward Rocker in excess of 100 mph, according to police. Butte officers who were in Rocker on another call assisted by throwing "stop sticks" in front of the fleeing vehicle, causing the tires to the Xterra to deflate. Hughes soon pulled over on the interstate just west of Rocker, according to police.

Officers blocked in the suspect's vehicle and had their guns drawn as he remained in his vehicle for several minutes refusing to obey police orders, according to the report. Hughes eventually complied and was taken into custody without further incident.

Hughes bonded out of jail later that morning.

When questioned by police after the incident, Hughes allegedly said he was "having a bad day" and just wanted to go for a drive, according to the police report.

- Reporter John Grant Emeigh may be reached via email at john.emeigh@lee.net

 

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