Police chase teen on dirt roads
FAIRFIELD — A 16-year-old boy led local law enforcement on a high speed chase on the outskirts of Fairfield Wednesday night, which included traversing dirt roads.
Trent Wade Dunbar, of Fairfield, was arrested in the 400 block of East Madison Avenue at 9:14 p.m. and charged with eluding a law enforcement vehicle (an aggravated misdemeanor), reckless driving, excessive speed and failure to obey a stop/yield sign.
Jefferson County Sheriff Gregg Morton said a deputy attempted to stop Dunbar for speeding at 8:27 p.m. Wednesday while Dunbar was near the intersection of Osage Avenue and Old Highway 34, just east of Fairfield.
Dunbar refused to stop and eluded police for more than half an hour. Morton said Dunbar traveled on Glasgow, Peppermint, Queenscup and other dirt roads south and east of Fairfield.
Deputies pursued Dunbar on the dirt roads, which Morton said were very muddy. At one point during the chase, a deputy exited his squad car when it was clear the path was too muddy to follow. He walked down the dirt road to see if he could find Dunbar’s vehicle stuck in the mud. Morton said the deputy found out Dunbar was able to maneuver through the dirt roads without getting stuck.
“The roads were a mess,” Morton said. “They were an absolute mess.”
Law enforcement lost contact with Dunbar’s vehicle for about 15 minutes during the chase, and then reacquired contact with him at 9 p.m. Law enforcement was able to stop Dunbar’s car two minutes later.
Morton estimated 11 or 12 law enforcement personnel were involved in the chase, which included officers from the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, the Fairfield Police Department, Jefferson County Police Reserve and Iowa State Patrol.
Morton said law enforcement personnel formed a perimeter around Dunbar’s suspected location so he had no means of escape.
The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office does not have a policy about whether officers should chase suspects down dirt roads.
“Officers have to use their common sense, and it’s up to their discretion,” Morton said.
Morton said it’s important for law enforcement to know where the dirt roads are in the county, so they have a sense for how difficult it will be to travel to certain locations.
The Van Buren County Sheriff’s Office was notified of the chase because local deputies believed Dunbar might drive into that county. Morton said Van Buren County was not ultimately needed to end the chase.
Morton said this was the fourth chase this year for the responding deputy alone. The other four chases began because officers found the vehicles to be suspicious. One of those incidents involved a pickup truck that had stolen farm gates and was traveling around with them at 3 a.m.
“In that incident, we recovered the gates but lost the vehicle,” he said.