MARTINSVILLE, Ind. — A Martinsville woman remains in the hospital with serious injuries while police are searching for a Bloomington man who allegedly struck her head-on after leading several area police agencies on a pursuit.
Court records show the victim, Ruth Tuttle, suffered ‘catastrophic injuries’ after she was struck head-on by 27-year-old O’Shawn McCullough. Her injuries included a broken femur, fractured right foot, a sternal fracture, multiple rib fractures, and multiple lumbar fractures.
“If it would have been different outcome, there would have been more anger. Now, I just want answers,” said the victim’s son, Dwayne Tuttle.
The Monroe County Prosecutor’s Office confirmed Wednesday charges have been filed against McCullough and a warrant for his arrest has been issued following the multi-county pursuit and series of events that took place on Aug. 5.
According to the Bloomington Police Department, just before 4 p.m. on Aug. 5, McCullough was pulled over by police after he allegedly committed a traffic infraction by crossing the double yellow line. When it was confirmed there was an active warrant for his arrest, Bloomington police said McCullough was asked to step out of the Cadillac Escalade he was driving, but instead, he took off, leading police on a pursuit.
BPD told FOX59 McCullough entered I-69 northbound and officers followed but terminated the pursuit a short time later and notified the Morgan County Sheriff’s Office of the suspect vehicle information. Documents show a Morgan County Sheriff’s Deputy spotted the SUV driving erratically and took pursuit.
“I observed that I reached speeds in excess of 100 miles per hour just to catch up to the vehicle,” read a probable cause affidavit.
Documents show the pursuit continued, eventually entering into Martinsville. Documents show as they approached the intersection of Burton Lane, an officer with the Martinsville Police Department was stationary in a fully marked patrol car with lights activated and attempted to deploy stop sticks but was unsuccessful.
According to the affidavit, when McCullough drove around the cruiser to avoid the stop sticks, he struck another vehicle that was stopped where lanes were blocked off. During the final moments of the pursuit, documents show McCullough turned northbound on to the State Road 39 bypass, a detour route during the I-69 expansion project.
Martinsville Police Department officers could be observed just north of the intersection on the bypass by CVS, an affidavit shows. They attempted to deploy stop sticks in the path of the suspect.
Police said they observed McCullough attempt to avoid the stop sticks but that he appeared to still strike them with the passenger side tires, lose control and collide head on with Ruth Tuttle before quickly attempting to get out of the SUV.
Tuttle’s son, Dwayne, said that his own son and mother were in the car together and that he was told he needed to get to there right away.
“You know, stuff’s running through your head. We finally get here, and she’s already gone,” he said. At that point she had already been transported to the hospital.
“My mom didn’t even hardly see it coming because she was focused on the lights down the road, but he had actually seen the cops throw the sticks and that’s what brought it to her attention at that point,” Tuttle shared.
Court documents show Tuttle was transported to a hospital in Bloomington via ambulance and McCullough was transported to IU Health Methodist Hospital via Lifeline helicopter from the scene of the crash.
Documents show McCullough’s handcuffs had been removed due to concerns that he had possible internal injury and was sedated upon transport. They also show the pursuing deputy with the Morgan County Sheriff’s Department made contact with the hospital regarding McCullough’s status.
“Medical staff advised that O’Shawn was going to be possibly treated for a couple days but was currently in a medically induced coma. I made contact with IU Health Methodist Hospital Police, advising them of the situation and requested they contact us in the event O’Shawn was going to be released,” read the probable cause affidavit.
Documents show one day later, police called the hospital and were told “O’Shawn ran out of the hospital and was no longer there.”
“For the pursuit that went on you would think that they would have a police officer there watching him 24/7 so this shouldn’t have happened,” said Tuttle.
Tuttle said nearly one week later, his mom is still in the hospital and faces a long road ahead of her.
“She’s got a long road of recovery and she’s gonna be in a wheelchair for quite a while. She already had fake knees,” he shared, noting that she is in good spirits and concerned about her own family at own as she works to recover.
He said his son later went to the hospital for a slight concussion, swelling and bruising, but that physically he is doing okay.
“Mentally, he’s scarred from it. He’s the one that actually had seen it,” said Tuttle.
Tuttle said he wants the suspect to be held accountable for his actions,
“It was just a bad decision on the suspect,” he said. He said, however, he also wants answers on who made the decision to put down stop sticks in a heavily traveled area during rush hour. He also wants to know why the side of the road his mom was traveling down wasn’t blocked off as stop sticks were deployed.
“They had traffic kind of diverted and the police for down the road,” he said. “I’d like to know answers on why the road was not blocked further down or even why, you know, it’s a four-lane road here but this is the I-69 detour route during rush hour traffic.”
“This could have waited ‘til, you know, 67 where there’s a divider, not very many people at all on the road there,” said Tuttle.
Lisa White, who owns Frilly Frolics & the Pretty Penny Boutique said she sees the traffic daily and knows how congested it can get around the time this incident occurred.
“It’s super busy, it’s got four lanes when it used to just have two,” she said. “If school would have been in session, I still would have been actually out driving a school bus. That would have been school time, like prime release time for school.”
“It could have been really tragic for anyone,” she said.
White said a customer told her she was in traffic near the first attempt to deploy stop sticks.
“She was actually petrified when the first ones was thrown right in front of her and she was kind of scared they could possibly hit her,” said White.
White said she was saddened to learn that Ruth remained in the hospital Wednesday and suffered injuries as serious as she did.
“If it was reaching this town, maybe they should have warned people. He’s not gonna go through town, he’s gonna take the easy way, which is the bypass,” she added.
“This could have been prevented from happening,” said Tuttle. “This could have really cost some lives.”
He said while he hopes these questions are answered soon, he hopes the suspect is taken into custody soon.
“Let’s get him into the right hands so he doesn’t hurt anybody else in a police chase again. Let’s get him into the right hands. Let’s hold him accountable for what he’s done,” said Tuttle.
He said meantime, he is grateful that his mother survived the crash and knows it could have been even worse.
“They’re all lucky to be alive. You don’t know what was going through that guy’s head at the time. I was told he was doing excessive — around 60 miles per hour and my son says she was probably doing 25 by the time she was stopping to get out of the way,” said Tuttle. “The car was just mangled; his car was in worst shape than hers.”
“Count your blessings. You’re only on this earth once.”
Morgan County Sheriff Richard Myers said, “First and foremost, the Morgan County Sheriff’s Office would like to extend our thoughts, prayers, and condolences to Mrs. Tuttle and her family. We are hoping for her speedy recovery.”
McCullough faces several charges including resisting law enforcement, a level 3 felony, unlawful possession of a firearm by a serious violent felon, a level 4 felony, resisting law enforcement, a level 5 felony, carrying a handgun without a license, a level 5 felony, and three counts of leaving the scene of an accident.
It was determined at the conclusion of the portion of the pursuit involving Morgan County deputies, according to court documents, that at least three other vehicles were struck during the pursuit.
According to documents, a gun was recovered from McCullough’s vehicle, along with more than $2,300 in cash. They also show that McCullough is a convicted felon who reached a plea agreement in 2015 for Dealing in Cocaine or Narcotic, and that McCullough had previous resisting, narcotic and weapon arrests listed in his criminal history.
The prosecutor’s office explained that charges were filed in one county due to Indiana’s venue statute, which says a single crime or series of crimes that are commenced in one county and continue to a second county may be held in either. This is guided under Indiana Supreme Court case law, the prosecutor’s office said.
After consulting with the Morgan County Prosecutor’s Office, the Monroe County Prosecutor’s Office said it was decided all charges will be filed in that county.
The prosecutor’s office said anyone with information on McCullough’s whereabouts should contact the Morgan County Sheriff’s Department at 765-342-5544 or the Bloomington Police Department at 812-339-4477.
Was pursuit policy followed?
FOX59 reached out to the Morgan County Sheriff’s Office and the Martinsville Police Department for more information, but the agencies deferred comments on the pursuit to the Monroe County Prosecutor’s Office.
Bloomington Police told FOX59 that their portion of the pursuit was terminated by a supervisor because their officers knew the identity of the vehicle’s driver.
To understand the training that law enforcement officers go through when it comes to operating during pursuits, FOX59 News spoke with Lieutenant Brian Ringer, lead instructor of Emergency Vehicle Operations for the Indiana Law Enforcement Academy.
Ringer could not comment on this case but offered information on pursuits and education in general as it’s provided through the Indiana Law Enforcement Academy.
He said every agency dictates its own pursuit policies, so there is no one standard policy across the board for Indiana’s law enforcement agencies.
“Things we teach is following distances, safe following distances three to four seconds, due regard for the safety of others, it’s an obligation, and giving good public notification,” Ringer said. “Most importantly you have to weigh out the crime, the incident, is it worthy of a pursuit or does it outweigh having the pursuit?”
He said the factors constantly change and information evolves while pursuits are occurring.
“So, you may be deep into a pursuit and then learn the driver’s identity, maybe things lessen in the severity of why we’re in pursuit, so there are times that we try to teach the student’s here at the academy that you can terminate a pursuit and maybe get a warrant and go after the driver later, but that’s not always the situation,” he shared.
Ringer said every officer that comes through the academy and mostly all other agencies that train there are given this type of in-service training.
Editor’s note: An earlier version of this article stated that all agencies deferred comment on pursuit policy questions to the Monroe County Prosecutor’s Office. It has been updated to reflect that FOX59 was provided that information by the police agencies in Morgan County.