A Willow Springs man faces two felony charges after two pursuits involving law officers from three departments Sunday in the Cabool area.
Gaige Watts, 23, of 2663 CR 5600 at Willow Springs, is charged with first-degree tampering with a motor vehicle and resisting arrest by fleeing (creating a substantial risk of injury or death) as a result of the incidents.
According to a report by a Cabool Police Department officer, two officers responded at about 3 p.m. to assist a Missouri State Highway Patrol trooper who was in pursuit of a stolen silver Dodge truck on Airport Road.
The chase continued on back roads until the chase by the state patrol was aborted.
At about 4:30 p.m., a Texas County Sheriff’s Department deputy reported he had information that Watts was driving the stolen truck on Beeler Road and was about out of fuel. The officer went to Business U.S. 60/63 near Beeler Road to watch for the vehicle, while the other Cabool officer set up at U.S. 60 and Highway AV.
At about 7 p.m., a reporting officer observed the truck approaching and attempted to make a traffic stop, but the rig — believed to be operated by Watts — didn’t stop and instead passed a vehicle on a ramp to eastbound U.S. 60 and took off down the highway at speeds that reached 94 miles per hour.
The second officer was notified of the truck’s approach and successfully deployed spikes as it passed his location.
Authorities continued the pursuit as the stolen truck’s left front tire began deflating, but Watts continued and eventually went down a private drive, through a fence and onto a Phillips Land Cattle Co. field that is situated southwest of Garden Inn Truck Plaza. The area is near Highway AM and Pea Ridge Road.
Several officers from multiple agencies joined in a search of the area at nightfall, with three Cabool PD officers and a county deputy using a four-wheel drive truck to track Watts’ path through several fences on the private land and then into adjacent Mark Twain National Forest Land. At about 7:25 p.m., the stolen truck was found abandoned near a power line right-of-way and was cold by that time. Watts was nowhere around.
At one point, the suspect telephoned his stepfather to report he was hiding in a tree and bleeding from his injuries.
Officer continued to search on foot, and the reporting officer was advised that Watts had called someone indicating he wanted to turn himself in, but only to a state trooper. But while a deputy was tending to the stolen truck, Watts walked out of the woods and gave himself up.
The report states Watts drove through at least six barbed wire fences. He is in the Texas County Jail on $350,000 bond.
Watts had been arrested on a drug charge in September, but was free on bond.