Two people died Monday when a multi state stolen-vehicle spree ended in a head-on collision in Platte County.
A suspect stole five vehicles — including three in St. Joseph — before crashing on Highway 92, two miles west of Tracy, Mo., with law enforcement in pursuit. The crash killed the suspect and another driver.
Sgt. Bill Lowe, spokesman for the Missouri State Highway Patrol, said the suspect, who was a white male in his 20s, was air lifted to an area hospital where he was pronounced dead. Authorities were working Monday to positively identify the man.
The driver of the other vehicle was pronounced dead on the scene. Mr. Lowe said her identity would be released after her next of kin were notified.
The crash occurred after an hours-long pursuit of the suspect who went on a stolen-vehicle spree throughout St. Joseph and Platte County.
Cmdr. Larry Smith said the St. Joseph Police Department became involved when a customer’s vehicle was stolen from Dip Stix, 3421 Gene Field Road, around 12:30 p.m. Officers discovered the suspect had abandoned a Honda Civic, stolen from Council Bluffs, Iowa, at the shop.
Police got another call at 1 p.m., when a victim reported that his Nissan Titan was stolen from his driveway in the 500 block of Southwood Lane. Officers spotted the pickup and gave chase, but later lost sight of the suspect. Mr. Smith said that vehicle was later found abandoned in the area of Noyes Boulevard and Jules Street.
Then, shortly after 2 p.m., the suspect allegedly burglarized a home in the 2700 block of Felix Street, where he was able to steal a ring of keys before the victim came home and activated her alarm system, Mr. Smith said.
“It scared the suspect and he ran across the street into an alley, where he stole a maroon Mitsubishi Outlander,” from the 2700 block of Francis Street, Mr. Smith said.
It was that vehicle that led police and the Missouri State Highway Patrol on a high-speed chase south on Interstate 29 into Platte County. The Patrol lost sight of the suspect and called off the chase.
Sgt. Lowe with the Missouri State Highway Patrol said he again stole another car, this time at gunpoint, from the Casey’s in Platte City, after the Outlander became disabled. A few minutes later, the Platte County Sheriff’s Department received a call of a burglary in progress on Highway 92, just west of the crash scene.
It was there that the Missouri State Highway Patrol caught up with the suspect, this time driving a Buick Century, and began to give chase, shortly after 3 p.m.
Traveling eastbound on Highway 92, the suspect crested a hill and was forced to swerve to avoid hitting a westbound car that was passing improperly.
“The suspect over-corrected, ended up traveling off the roadway and then crossed the center line, hitting the victim,” Mr. Lowe said.
He said it was unclear Monday where the suspect was headed or why he was engaging in such erratic criminal behavior.
“He obviously didn’t care who he affected by this,” he said. “ … He was just stealing vehicles to get wherever it was he was going.”
The Patrol’s Division of Drug and Crime Control were processing the scene late Monday evening and still had Highway 92 closed down as of 6:30 p.m.
“It was tragic circumstances and our hearts go out to this victim’s family,” Mr. Lowe said. “This is not how we would have liked it to end — we’d like it to end peacefully — but the suspect took a different path.”