Tim Chitwood: Don't try to race to the chase; it's not safe

tchitwood@ledger-enquirer.comSeptember 28, 2013 

Last week it occurred to me that I really hate driving on Buena Vista Road.

Take that any way you want, like as "my" driving on Buena Vista Road or "the" driving in general. But if you take it as geographically prejudicial, let me add this paper hasn't space to list the north Columbus roads I hate.

Trying to get someplace in a hurry in heavy traffic on Buena Vista Road is like a video game: Cars move at widely ranging speeds and continuously change lanes, especially at the spider web. Traffic frequently stops for motorists turning off, which is startling if left-lane traffic abruptly stops as you move into the left lane to pass someone in the right.

That's a risk you'd best anticipate as you hit the Interstate 185 interchange, because it hasn't space at rush hour to accommodate all the traffic turning left to take the interstate north.

So, how a fugitive fleeing Columbus police managed to speed through there Tuesday, and how officers kept up with him, is beyond my comprehension -- particularly the part where they head out Steam Mill Road with the suspect dodging head-on collisions crossing into oncoming traffic.

By the time I heard this chase on a police scanner, it was headed south on I-185 toward Buena Vista Road. I thought that's how it started.

But in court Friday patrol officers said the tale starts way up by Gateway Road, and goes like this:

The police spot the suspect at Gateway and Beaver Run Road and try to stop him on Warm Springs Road. He flies east at 90 mph to Billings Road, cuts back to Gateway, gets on the Manchester Expressway, goes west at 120 mph to reach I-185, then heads south at 110 mph.

He takes Buena Vista Road west to Steam Mill Road, then goes to Timberlain Drive, Dirk Way and Parkwood Drive, where officers lose contact.

Five minutes later, police find the suspect has ditched his car behind a church at 1603 Floyd Road.

Figuring hundreds of motorists might check the newspaper to see what just happened, I raced out Buena Vista Road to reach the scene, but police had caught the guy by the time I got there.

Recapping the escapade has led me to conclude that if Columbus is going to have chases like this, then the newspaper's going to have to get a helicopter. Or a drone.

Another realization is that it's not safe to speed down Buena Vista Road, so it's a good thing police are cracking down on that.

Tim Chitwood, tchitwood@ledger-enquirer.com, 706-571-8508.

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