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3 arrested following manhunt near Utah-Arizona border

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ST. GEORGE — Three of four people who police say fled into the desert after crashing a stolen vehicle were arrested Tuesday following a nine-hour manhunt.

Police received several calls of three "suspicious" people near I-15 and Black Rock Road. An officer from the Arizona Department of Public Safety responded to the area as well as St. George police.

It was determined that the man, 30, and two women, ages 21 and 22, were connected to the earlier incident and they were taken into custody. Their names were not immediately available.

Investigators were still looking for another man late Tuesday afternoon.

The incident began just after 4 a.m. when a police officer pulled over a pickup truck for speeding on I-15 on the south end of the city, said St. George Police Capt. Mike Giles. Two men and two women were in the vehicle.

When the officer ran the vehicle and plate information, he discovered the truck was reported stolen out of Wyoming and the license plate on the pickup was reported stolen out of Colorado.

The officer then radioed for backup and told the occupants of the pickup to get out of the vehicle.


When he started doing that, he heard an occupant in the truck yelling for the driver to 'go.' The driver accelerated southbound, in the process striking one of the cement barriers and flattening one of the tires of the truck.

–St. George Police Captain Mike Giles


"When he started doing that, he heard an occupant in the truck yelling for the driver to 'go.' The driver accelerated southbound, in the process striking one of the cement barriers and flattening one of the tires of the truck," Giles said.

A few moments later, the officer saw a cloud of dust. As he drove up to investigate, he found the pickup had crashed, either by the driver losing control or unsuccessfully attempting a U-turn, he said.

As the officer approached the vehicle, he discovered the four occupants were gone and had likely fled into the desert.

Additional St. George police officers, Washington County sheriff's deputies and a helicopter were called to assist in the search.

Two guns — believed to be either Airsoft or BB guns that were made to look "extremely realistic" — were found discarded in the desert, according to Giles. Identification cards were found inside the abandoned truck. Giles did not know whether they belong to those who were in the truck or the vehicle's owner.

Residents within a 1-mile radius of the crash were warned not to pick up hitchhikers or help anyone who may come to their doors asking for shelter or a ride.

About 10 a.m., police canvassing the Sun River residential area, adjacent to the desert that was being searched, discovered that a Mercedes Benz Model with Utah license plate 8479S, was stolen out of a garage. The license plate also had a purple heart on it.

Detectives believe the two incidents are connected.

Anyone who has information about either incident is asked to call police at 435-627-4300.

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Pat Reavy

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