NEW PHILADELPHIA, Ohio (WJW) — A Columbus man is in custody, and another is on the run after leading authorities on a high-speed chase in two stolen cars that reached speeds of more than 160 miles per hour.
The Tuscarawas County Sheriff’s Office says they got a 911 call at about 8:15 a.m. morning about two cars having been stolen from the Insurance Auto Auction, which is only about two-tenths of a mile from the department.
Investigators believe the thieves searched the auction’s internet site to identify the cars, which they drove out as soon as the business opened
One of the two cars was a high-performance 2020 Dodge Charger with a SCAT PACK, the other a 2017 Chevrolet Camaro Convertible.
A ‘BOLO’ was immediately transmitted by dispatchers and the two cars were first spotted in the nearby community of Uhrichsville, where police did their best to give chase.
The cars both went from Route 250 onto State Route 36 where they were traveling with the white Dodge in front of the Camaro already reaching speeds of more than 100 miles per hour.
Authorities tell Fox 8 the driver of the Camaro actually pulled over for police officers in Uhrichsville but sped away when the officer got out of his car to join the white Dodge.
The two cars went through a busy intersection and onto the winding rural Rt. 36 at extremely high speeds.
A Tuscarawas County Sheriff’s Deputy was still behind them when they were first spotted by Gnadenhutten Police Chief Dennis Moody in his Ford SUV patrol vehicle.
“I could barely see his (the deputies) lights when I pulled out because they were going so fast yeah,” said Moody who also said the two cars were passing trucks on the two-lane road before they reached his location.
Moody’s body camera shows him reaching speeds of as high as 126 miles per hour but the two stolen cars were still distancing themselves from him.
“I wasn’t sure if I needed to put more foot into it to get up to their speed or to stay back and just keep an eye on them because I don’t want to be responsible for killing somebody in a car going that fast to catch somebody,” Moody said.
Less than two minutes into his pursuit Moody’s dash camera shows flashes in electric lines ahead of him where the Dodge crashed.
The car went airborne off of SR-36 and into a field taking out a six-foot section of a utility pole, obliterating a seven-foot-tall school bus shelter and destroying the car.
It came to rest in a soybean field owned by Dave Dennis who was in his home at the time.
“I was sitting in a chair, a kickback chair watching Fox 8 news and all of a sudden I felt a shake in the house and a boom. It shook the house and I heard a boom and heard the sirens,” Dennis said.
“With just some of the reconstruction that has happened so far that the vehicle was airborne prior to hitting the telephone pole so it looks like a lot of the impact was to the bottom of the vehicle,” said Fisher.
Moody’s body camera video shows officers from multiple agencies, Ohio Highway Patrol Troopers and Tuscarawas County Sheriff’s Deputies taking Conde into custody after he crawled out of the car.
A tire, that came off of a front wheel, was found on the edge of the field about 100 yards away.
Conde is heard telling authorities that he was not the driver and the driver was somewhere in nearby woods, so they had no choice but to search for another person before determining that Conde was alone in the car.
Amazingly he complained of sore ribs but suffered no serious injuries.
Moody says he told authorities he was wearing his seat belt at the time of the crash.
Tuscarawas County Sheriff’s Office Captain Adam Fisher said the thieves drove to New Philadelphia in a car that was rented from the Columbus airport.
“For them to be going 163 miles an hour and Port Washington is just five-six miles down the road and that’s a 35-mile-an-hour zone,” Moody said.
The Camaro was eventually abandoned in Coshocton County where authorities said it was not damaged.
Fisher said Conde was not previously known to authorities in Tuscarawas County.
“He is currently on probation with the Franklin Co. common pleas court and he does have a pretty significant criminal history to include some burglaries, thefts and an attempted theft of a motor vehicle,” Fisher said.
He was examined at a local hospital and released to the custody of Tuscarawas County Authorities where he is being held in the county jail facing numerous charges.
Authorities continue to try to identify his accomplice.
“I would say he’s absolutely lucky to be alive and it was just fate, ” Fisher said.