A deputy spotting a swerving car led to a high-speed chase very late Saturday night, April 7.
In the deputy’s report, he spotted a car on Highway 65S at 11:13 p.m. near Bee Branch doing a poor job of staying in its lane. As the deputy gained on the car, a Dodge Stratus, he saw the car turn across two lanes without signaling, then turn onto Highway 92E.
The deputy turned in behind the Dodge as it continued to swerve, radioing that he was about to pull the car over. When he turned on his lights and siren, however, the car accelerated from 45 mph up to 65 mph, still swerving. The officer pursued.
Over the radio the officer was told of a Cleburne County officer ahead, on the same radio frequency and ready to deploy spike strips in order to stop the speeding Dodge. This was organized, however, too late for the Cleburne officer to get the spike strips out, and that officer fell in behind the deputy, joining the chase, the report stated.
The Dodge turned onto Highway 25 and the chase was turned over to the Cleburne officer, with the Van Buren County deputy moving to the second position, per the report. The Dodge turned onto Highway 124E then onto Highway 5S toward Romance as officers from Quitman, White County and Arkansas State Police joined the pursuit.
On Highway 5 an oncoming car was forced into a ditch. An officer stopped to check on that driver, the outcome not included in the report.
As the Dodge turned on to Whadley Drive two White County officers were able to get spike strips out, flattening four tires on the Dodge and forcing it to stop, but not until it drove an additional half-mile before stopping in front of a home there.
The driver was ordered out of the car and was handcuffed “with no resistance,” the report stated.
The driver, the only person in the car, was Mark James Lutz, 54, of Romance. When asked, he told officers he did not stop because “I didn’t want my car towed,” per the report. Seven empty beer cans were found in the Dodge, and a portable breathalyzer registered Lutz with a 0.18 BAC, well over the legal limit.
The home where the car stopped was Lutz’s address.
Lutz was found to have a suspended driver’s license. He was given a field sobriety test where he showed several clues indicating his being under the influence.
(A field sobriety test, involving a series of tests of eye movement and balance, is not a pass/fail test but used to provide a series of “clues” to the test-taker’s condition. Four possible clues may be given during the one-leg stand, for example.)
Lutz was charged with DUI, fleeing, driving on a suspended license, driving left of center and reckless driving, per the report. He was arrested and jailed. Sheriff’s department records show his being released on bond Monday afternoon.