October 24, 2014

Medina
Partly cloudy
39°F

Police can’t catch motorcyclist speeding at 156 mph

MEDINA TWP. — Police are looking for the motorcyclist in a high-speed chase Tuesday night that started in the township and ended in Summit County.

Township Police Chief David Arbogast said speeds reached 156 mph as the motorcyclist fled a township officer attempting to make a traffic stop on Interstate 71 about 7 p.m. Tuesday.

“Our officer observed a motorcycle going about 79 mph and he pulled out to activate a traffic stop,” Arbogast said.

The motorcyclist didn’t stop and instead accelerated, he said. Ohio Highway Patrol troopers who were in an aircraft followed the motorcycle and began documenting the chase for officers on the ground.

“As luck would have it, the highway patrol was in an aircraft running radar and had several troopers up in the air,” Arbogast said.

Lt. William Haymaker, commander of the patrol’s Medina post, said troopers monitor speed from the air in an “air zone” in Montville Township. Large white lines mark every quarter-mile and troopers with stopwatches time vehicles traveling through the zone to calculate their speed.

The aircraft followed the motorcycle and estimated it hit speeds of 150 mph, 155 mph and 156 mph in the southbound lanes of I-71.

Haymaker said his officers continued to follow the motorcycle and stayed in touch with officers on the ground through a dispatcher.

Arbogast said his officer fell about a mile behind the motorcycle at one point.

“I guess you can’t call it a pursuit because we were more than a mile behind,” Arbogast said.

The chief said police cruisers didn’t reach the speeds of the motorcycle and his officers likely would not pursue at those speeds out of safety concerns for other motorists.

The motorcycle moved onto Interstate 76 and had several encounters with troopers who got close to the cyclist, but were unable to stop or keep up.

The motorcyclist apparently spotted a Wadsworth police officer near I-76 and state Route 94 and picked up speed. He got off the interstate and onto state Route 261 just before the Summit County line, where he hit speeds of around 112 mph.

Troopers in aircraft also reported seeing the motorcyclist pass over a double yellow line and weave in and out of traffic on Route 261.

The motorcycle crossed into Summit County and turned off Route 261 onto South Hametown Road, where he abandoned his motorcycle in a garage and fled on foot.

Medina County sheriff’s deputies assisted Medina Township police and troopers with the search, but were unable to find the motorcyclist.

Arbogast said his office may have a suspect but would not release his name because he is not in custody and charges have not yet been filed.

“The person has a little bit of a history,” the chief said.

He said he plans to work with the county prosecutor to file charges against the man including fleeing and eluding, failure to comply and speeding.

The motorcycle, Arbogast said, had a high-performance engine, allowing it to travel faster than a regular factory model.

The chief said traffic was relatively light throughout the chase and he’s thankful no one was injured.

“It’s amazing he didn’t wreck,” Arbogast said. “Weaving in and out of traffic and hitting those speeds, we’re lucky no one got hurt.”

Contact reporter Loren Genson at (330) 721-4063 or lgenson@medina-gazette.com.