Semi Driver Leads Authorities On 3-County Chase

WAMEGO, Kan. (WIBW) -- A semi truck tore through three northeast Kansas counties late Thursday night/ early Friday morning with law enforcement in hot pursuit.

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Pottawatomie County Sheriff Greg Riat said pursuit of the semi began in Shawnee County, when the 18-wheeler rammed a Ford F-150 pickup truck with 4 men inside. Shawnee and Wabaunsee County deputies then chased the semi into Wabaunsee County, and the truck continued speeding north on Highway 99, ending up in Pottawatomie County just north of Wamego.

Sheriff Riat said Friday morning he couldn't give an explanation as to the driver's bizarre and erratic behavior.

Wamego resident Michelle Chambers was at work near US-24 and K-99 when she heard police sirens. She said she walked outside in time to see the semi drive through the intersection on K-99.

"As I'm watching I notice at the stoplight headed northbound on 99 was this huge semi and he was going probably - not knowing for sure - but maybe 50-60 mph and I'm thinking, 'What is going on?'" Chambers recounted. "All of a sudden I see police car after police car right behind him. I would say probably 10-12 police cars behind this semi."

Sheriff Riat said during the chase the driver of the semi appeared to intentionally try to ram several other vehicles on the road.

The driver hit his last car near Louisville, this one driven by Kristie Dressman of Frankfort. She pulled her car off the road but the semi chased her, rear ending her car until she finally sped away.

The semi then stopped in the yard of a private residence.

Several people were taken to local hospitals to be treated for minor injuries.

Chambers said she called a woman working at a local gas station who said her friends were in one of the cars the semi driver allegedly tried to hit. "She said that her friends had left the store and had headed south down Lincoln Street, which is our main street.

Deputies used pepper gas to detain the driver - Robert L. Smith of Salina. He was taken to the Pottawatomie County Jail on charges of attempted murder, aggravated battery, aggravated assault of law enforcement officer and criminal damage to property.

Officials say smith threatened at least eight motorists and passengers. Four people were taken to local hospitals to be treated for injuries.


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