Purchase photos

Suspect in custody after 40-minute police chase

10/24/2013

By CHRIS HUNTER

By CHRIS HUNTER

Special to The Hays Daily News

SALINA -- A man was arrested Wednesday afternoon after leading law enforcement on an almost 40-minute chase around Salina and Saline County in a stolen service van.

The chase started after 2:10 p.m. near Bill Burke Park after police located a van from Reid Plumbing, Heating & Air Conditioning, Manhattan, that had been reported stolen from Salina Family Healthcare Center, 600 Prescott. The chase ended at 2:50 p.m. on Interstate Highway 70, a mile east of Ohio Street, after police used spikes to flatten all four of the van's tires.

Information about the chase was limited Wednesday, but police are expected to release more information today.

Law officers chased the van, driven by Cody Mathias Lott, 30, as far southeast as Holmes and Water Well roads, as far west as Old U.S. Highway 40 and State Street, and north on North Ninth Street to Diamond Drive. Officers had difficulties at times following him down dirt roads.

Law enforcement chased the van through the parking lot of Walmart and on Planet Avenue, onto South Ninth Street and through traffic in south Salina. At least 10 vehicles from the Kansas Highway Patrol, Saline County Sheriff's Office and Salina Police Department were seen chasing the van on Magnolia Road in front of Salina South High School.

A representative from Reid Plumbing, Heating & Air Conditioning declined to comment on the incident.

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Rep. J.R. Claeys, R-Salina, was meeting Rep. Travis Couture-Lovelady, R-Palco, to visit the Howison Heights water district north of Salina when he saw police cars drive by the convenience store.

"Initially, I was at Petro 2 (north of I-70) getting Starbucks and waiting for Rep. Lovelady," Claeys said. "I saw a few vehicles heading south in a hurry, with no lights and sirens. About 20 to 30 minutes later, I saw everyone moving north and a plumbing van being chased."

Police set up spike strips at various intersections and in the middle of roads but the van driver went around the strips. Vehicles with officers sitting, sometimes miles away, waited for the van and blocked the entrances to the city in case the driver attempted to come back into the city.

Claeys said police blocked traffic at I-70 and North Ninth Street.

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"We saw police preparing stop sticks and blocked the exits near Petro 2," Claeys said. "Police seemed to be anticipating where he was going. Later, he appeared back on Ninth Street and was making his way south. Police attempted to block the road but he maneuvered around them and made his way south. That was the last we saw of him."

Claeys said police set up spike strips on the eastbound on-ramp to I-70 that Lott ran over.

Officers stopped the van off the side of the highway and took Lott into custody.

Lott was arrested in February for vehicle burglary after he was found in a vehicle in the 1000 block of East Beloit Avenue.

In October 2012, Lott reported his vehicle had been stolen from the 700 block of North Eighth Street.