MEDINA COUNTY, Ohio (WJW) – Police from multiple agencies worked together to locate and capture two suspects that fled on foot after a 15-mile high-speed chase on Sunday.
The use of technology was paramount in expediting their arrest.
The chase began at 11:47 p.m. when the Medina County Sheriff’s Office attempted to make a traffic stop in Guilford Township. The vehicle refused to pull over, leading police on a chase that was slowed after spike strips were deployed.
Two male suspects then took off on foot, jumping over the guardrail. That’s when the Brunswick Hills Police Department was tagged into action.
“Just got a basic of where they thought they had ran, a direction of travel, then I deployed the drone,” BHPD Drone Pilot Ptl. Zachary Getto said.
Getto put eyes in the sky after the suspects fled to a swampy area to hide.
“It was probably, maybe five, 10 minutes later, I was able to locate two heat sources walking through the field,” he said.
BHPD’s drone is outfitted with thermal imaging, some of the latest technology, allowing officers to speed up the total time it takes to find a suspect.
“It’s just a game changer,” BHPD SGT. Jim Sanford said. “We can take care of in minutes what it would take hours to do to get enough people together and do a ground search.”
The two men were from Central Ohio and unfamiliar with the terrain, putting them in more danger than running from the law alone.
“Not only did we execute the arrest on their crimes, but we maybe possibly saved their lives,” BHPD Chief Tim Sopkovich said. “Running into those deep, swampy waters, hypothermia could have set in really quick.”
Once the men were located, police moved in for an arrest. The driver was charged with fleeing and eluding, a felony of the third degree. The passenger was charged with obstructing official business, a misdemeanor of the second degree. Both subjects were transported to the Medina County Jail.
BHPD warned that if you try to run, you will be caught, and sometimes they won’t even need to break a sweat chasing you.
“This is the safest for our officers. We know we’re able to detect what’s out there and respond to it appropriately,” Sopkovich said. “The drone is a big asset.”