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Escaped Youth Challenge cadets caught, one leads police on high-speed chase

by Minden Press-Herald

Four teenagers who managed to elude authorities from Sunday afternoon until Monday morning reportedly are now in custody, including one who allegedly stole a vehicle in Sibley and led police on a chase through three parishes at speeds which at times exceeded 100 m.p.h. in the wrong lane of a rain and sleet slickened Interstate 20.

Webster Parish Chief Deputy Bobby Igo Sr. says the suspect was captured only after Sheriff Gary Sexton, who had been involved in the pursuit through Webster, Bienville and Lincoln parishes, used a “PIT maneuver” on the stolen vehicle to bring the chase to an end shortly after 11:30 a.m.
PIT (precision immobilization technique) is a pursuit tactic by which a pursuing car can force a fleeing car to abruptly turn sideways, causing the driver to lose control and stop.

Igo said the suspect’s vehicle rolled over after the PIT maneuver impact, landing upside down just off the highway. He reportedly showed no signs of injury when taken into custody, arresting officers confirmed.

“The suspect got on Interstate 20 heading east in the westbound lane and stayed there until he finally got stopped about three or four miles east of Ruston,” Igo said. “We firmly believe the weather is the only reason someone wasn’t killed. If it had been a normal day with the normal amount of traffic, there could have been a tragedy.”

Minden Police Department officers, who had joined parish deputies in the hunt for the runaways, reportedly pursued the stolen vehicle from Sibley onto Interstate 20 around 10:54 a.m. At the time, sleet and freezing rain was falling and temperatures hovered just under the freezing mark.

“The road conditions were terrible,” Igo said. “But officers pursuing the suspect stayed with him.

It was a real example of agencies assisting one another. Dispatchers were able to give us almost a play-by-play as the chase continued while still giving us reports of accidents, which seemed to be occurring all over the place because of the icy conditions.”

Igo said two of the four teenagers were juveniles and would be sent to the state juvenile facility. Names of the two older teens have not been released, and the pair is currently being held at Bayou Dorcheat Correctional Center. Charges are pending, Igo said.

Igo said the episode began when four males left the Camp Minden YCP facility Sunday and headed west into Bossier Parish. There, they stole a vehicle and drove east toward Doyline where the vehicle was wrecked. The group escaped authorities by running into a wooded area.

Around 2:15 a.m. Monday, the quartet reportedly broke into a business in Doyline where they were
recorded on the store’s surveillance system taking a variety of items including cigarettes and food. Deputies arrived at the scene of the burglary quickly in response to an alarm.

“The four fled to the railroad tracks in Doyline and headed east where they stole another vehicle on Mathis Road,” Igo said. “Apparently, an individual had cranked a car preparing to go to work and these people came along at that time. The individual called quickly enough that our deputies were able to get in pursuit of the vehicle.”

Deputies reportedly pursued the stolen vehicle east on La. Hwy. 164 to the intersection of U.S. Hwy. 371 in Sibley. While trying to elude capture, the driver of the stolen vehicle collided with a deputy’s vehicle and tried unsuccessfully to push through the roadblock.
“They bailed out of the car headed east along the railroad tracks that run through Sibley,” Igo said.

After eluding lawmen, the group apparently managed to cross Hwy. 164 and headed north through wooded areas where they were spotted by residents on two separate occasions. Deputies took to the woods in pursuit and captured one suspect, then used a K-9 tracker to hunt down another two.
“After we had three of them in custody, the fourth managed to get away and stole the vehicle,” Igo said. “That made three vehicles the group stole while they were on the run. We don’t know yet why they left, but I’ve never seen any kids who have left Camp Minden try as hard to avoid capture as this bunch.”

Igo says cooperation between the various law enforcement agencies finally brought the episode to an end.

“I can’t begin to thank all the officers who were out here,” he said. “Minden police units were very active in helping us, Sibley’s police were assisting, our reserve deputies were out and our night shift worked over. It was a total effort and every single officer played a key role in capturing these people.

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