WEST LIBERTY — A Davenport man was in the Cedar County Jail Thursday after a high-speed chase began in West Branch and went through several counties, ending just south of West Liberty Wednesday evening.
According to the West Branch Police Department. Ronald Hanchett of Davenport was taken into custody after stop sticks, a tire deflating device used by law enforcement in high-speed chases, were used to stop his vehicle. Hanchett has been charged with fleeing and eluding, speeding, and driving with a suspended license. Further charges are pending from the other municipalities.
"There was a warrant out for his arrest, but I’m not sure what it’s for yet,” Mike Horihan, chief of the West Branch Police Department, said. “Dispatch had an alert that he was known to be armed and dangerous."
Horihan said the chase began about 9 p.m. Wednesday when attendants at the BP gas station called to report a suspicious vehicle in the area. A responding officer tried to stop the vehicle, which sped away. The vehicle went on Interstate 80 westbound to Highway 218 southbound through Washington County. The chase exited at the Riverside ramp, where it proceeded into Muscatine County. Pursuing officers reported the chase reached speeds of over 100 mph.
Horihan said “many agencies” tried to use stop sticks on the vehicle, and by the time it stopped all four tires had been deflated. Hanchett reportedly continued driving on the rims at about 50 mph for a distance.
Involved in the chase were the West Branch Police Department, Cedar County Sheriff’s office. Johnson County Sheriff’s office, Washington County Sheriff’s office, West Liberty Police Department and the Iowa State Patrol.
Horihan said he had been informed of the chase and told the officers if the chase moved into a city it should be disregarded. When the chase reached Washington County he told the officers to disregard, but by that time other agencies were involved.
“All law enforcement agencies are concerned about that,” Horihan said, when discussing high-speed chases. “Usually there is a reason the person is running and it is not just a traffic violation. At the same time we don’t want to cause any injuries. The majority of this was on wide-open four-lane roads.”
He said most of the chase was in the county and by the time it moved into a city, the speeds had been greatly decreased due to the flat tires.