Escapade ends in arrest, crash of deputy's cruiser
By MIKE CORN
A Kinsley man remained in the Ellis County Jail on Monday facing the possibility of a string of criminal charges -- including strong-armed robbery -- stemming from a series of incidents that ended when he rammed into the rear of a patrol cruiser during a high-speed chase.
The entire incident started as a routine welfare check when the Hays Police Department was told 47-year-old Lyle D. Bryant, Kinsley, had checked out of Hays Medical Center against the advice of medical personnel.
It began about 12:18 a.m. Sunday and ended 45 minutes later with Bryant's arrest, when the truck he was driving skidded off Interstate 70 into the south ditch, through a fence and coming to rest in a plowed field.
The 1998 Ford pickup was allegedly stolen from Via Christi Village, driven out of the garage through an unopened garage door, Hays Police Chief Don Scheibler said.
Ellis County Sheriff's Deputy Garrett Brening, who was slowing down on the highway, was rammed from behind by Bryant, who was believed to be driving approximately 90 mph at the time, Ellis County Undersheriff Bruce Hertel said. Brening suffered minor injuries in the accident, but his patrol cruiser was destroyed.
The incident stretched from the time the police were called to the hospital to the time the Ellis County Sheriff's Office and the Kansas Highway Patrol brought Bryant to a halt just east of the Walker Overpass on I-70, approximately 15 miles east of Hays.
As HPD officers were arriving at the hospital, dispatchers received a call of a vehicle being stolen from nearby Via Christi Village.
When the officers arrived there, they were notified someone had pulled into the parking lot of Love's Country Store on Vine, crashing into the building, before going inside and demanding cigarettes.
At 6-feet, 3-inches tall and weighing about 290 pounds, Bryant's demands might constitute strong-armed robbery, Scheibler said.
It was soon after the incident at Love's that HPD officers first tried to pull Bryant over in the 2600 block of Vine, Scheibler said.
Bryant sped off and went east on I-70, at which time the sheriff's office and KHP took up pursuit. HPD officers returned to the city, Scheibler said, because the other agencies were involved.
While it's still unclear why Bryant was in the hospital, Scheibler said police were called out by hospital security to check on his welfare.
Bryant was not armed, Scheibler said, but the demand could constitute strong-arm robbery.
Scheibler said the man got back in the truck and headed north on Vine, and HPD officers tried to pull him over.
Once on the interstate, according to a statement by Hertel, the vehicle was traveling east at speeds of up to 100 mph.
When Bryant arrived in the vicinity of the Walker interchange, he exited the highway only to drive back up on I-70, continuing east.
Deputy Brening was able to get in front of Bryant, and Hertel said he started slowing down, hoping to deploy road spikes to flatten Bryant's tires.
"Bryant intentionally rammed the patrol vehicle from the rear at approximately 90 mph, disabling both vehicles," Hertel said in the statement.
That's when Bryant went into the ditch and was taken into custody.
Charges against Bryant are pending with the Ellis County Sheriff's Office.