Driver leads law enforcement on high speed chase through four counties

Driver leads law enforcement on high speed chase through fou

PUEBLO COUNTY, Colo. - A driver took three law enforcement agencies on a high speed chase through four counties Friday morning.

The driver, Justin Darnlee, was captured on a wooded plateau in Las Animas County around 10:30 a.m.

It started at 7:40 a.m. when a state patrol officer stopped Darnlee for speeding. The officer told Capt. Brian Lyons that Darnlee's breath smelled heavily of alcohol and he saw empty alcohol bottles in his car. Darnlee was accompanied by a male and female passenger.

The officer tried to give Darnlee a sobriety test but he took off, initiating the chase.

The chase started in Huerfano County, one mile south of Walsenburg on I-25.  Danlee took Highway 10 into Las Animas County and then Pueblo County. He drove through fields and pastures. Capt. Brian Lyons said he drove on farmland in Otero County at one point.

Darnlee stopped south of the intersection of Highway 10 and Whiterock Road to let out the two passengers. They ran into nearby fields but were quickly apprehended by law enforcement. They weren't named as suspects but they were taken into custody as persons of interest in the case.

Law enforcement described Darnlee's driving as erratic and reckless. The chase reached speeds of 100-110 miles per hour. He swerved off the road to avoid spike strips law enforcement put up to stop the driver in several locations.

Law enforcement lost Darnlee's vehicle at one point. Colorado State Patrol used its airplane to locate the car. The airplane spotted it on a plateau in Las Animas County. Darnlee's car had crashed between two trees.

The two passengers warned officers Darnlee had a gun in the vehicle and he threatened to shoot law enforcement if stopped.

Homeowners in the area were alerted about the chase and warned not to let Darnlee onto their property.

"Based on the fact that he had a weapon, that if he was to stop at a residence, that they were aware what we were doing in the area," said Lyons.

At the site of Darnlee's crashed vehicle, the three law enforcement agencies that responded to the chase set up a perimeter. They asked Darnlee to get out of the car but he wouldn't. He refused to show his hands.

"We attempted to have him come out of the vehicle, he did not respond to verbal commands, would not show his hands.  At that point, we utilized a taser," said Lyons.

Lyons said during the three-hour chase, Darnlee only passed two or three cars. Since traffic was light, Lyons said they continued to pursue Darnlee because it wasn't a threat to drivers.

Darnlee drove a white Toyota Camry with New Mexico license plates. The vehicle was not registered to him or the two passengers in the vehicle. There will be an investigation to determine if the car was stolen.

Darnlee could be charged with felony vehicular eluding and driving under the influence as well as other traffic violations. 

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