JAMESTOWN, Ind. – The chase ended with a pickup truck catching fire in a cornfield.
It wound through curvy roads, yards and fields.
The driver told police he was “scared” because he was driving on a suspended license and tried to get away.
Jamestown police arrested 19-year-old Wyatt Saunders in connection with the Oct. 14 incident. He faces multiple charges, including resisting law enforcement, failure to remain at the scene of an accident, reckless driving and possession of marijuana. He’s also accused of infractions including littering, disregarding a stop sign and driving without a valid driver’s license.
The chaotic night started at 5:13 p.m., when an officer with the Jamestown Police Department was heading southbound on County Road South 1025 West toward Highway 136 in a rural area.
A white pickup truck rounded the corner at a “fast and unsafe speed,” according to court documents. The officer saw the truck lose control and briefly spin sideways; the driver, later identified as Saunders, had a cell phone pressed up to his ear.
The officer turned around to initiate a traffic stop for distracted driving; the truck picked up speed and took off, kicking up a large amount of dust from the gravel road. The officer turned on his emergency lights and siren and advised dispatchers that he’d initiated a pursuit.
What followed was a chase through rural parts of Jamestown as Saunders drove at a high rate of speed through S-curves and fields, according to court documents. At one point, he turned onto a side street with a dead end; the truck sat in a driveway. The officer pulled behind the vehicle and started to get out. Saunders put the truck into reverse and almost hit the officer’s car.
The truck then went through yards, damaging several properties, according to court documents. Debris also flew out of the back of the truck because of what police described as Saunders’ “careless and reckless driving.” Saunders ignored a stop sign at Ash and Darlington and sped through a neighborhood with a 30 mph speed limit.
While heading west on US 136, the pursuit reached triple-digit speeds, according to court documents. At one point, Saunders drove down the middle of the road between vehicles, running them off the road as drivers tried to avoid him, police said.
On County Road 1025 West, Saunders’ truck passed a vehicle belonging to a volunteer firefighter. The firefighter said a rock flew out of Saunders’ truck and knocked out one of his windows.
During a turn, Saunders lost control of his truck and hit a utility pole, “causing several sparks to fly,” police said. Saunders then veered into a cornfield, ditched the truck and ran off. The officer saw white smoke coming from the area; once he made his way to the truck, he found it and the surrounding corn were on fire.
That brought an end to the pursuit. Police learned Saunders was the driver of the truck and received information that a friend had picked him up and dropped him off at his home in Lebanon.
At the home, police talked to Saunders’ mother, who told them her son had been driving a white truck. He’d called her to tell her he’d crashed into a cornfield and his truck had caught fire. Saunders had fresh cuts and scratches on his body, according to court documents.
After going to an area hospital for a checkup, Saunders agreed to talk to police. He said he was “scared because he was driving on a suspended license” and tried to get away. Saunders had a friend pick him up because he didn’t know the area well and needed someone to take him home, according to court documents.
Police said a black lockbox found inside the truck contained a glass smoking pipe with burned residue.
Saunders was taken to the Boone County Jail and had his initial hearing earlier this week. A trial is scheduled for March 2023.