Photos: Police pursuit ends in fiery crash

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by Catherine Holland

azfamily.com

Posted on August 25, 2011 at 6:30 AM

Updated Thursday, Aug 25 at 10:16 PM

Map: Ellsworth and Baseline roads

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MESA, Ariz. – A suspect is dead after an overnight pursuit involving four separate law-enforcement agencies.

It all came to an end in the area of Ellsworth and Baseline roads. Gilbert police were the first to spot the suspect as about 12:30 a.m. Thursday. He reportedly was driving erratically and without headlights in the area of Ellsworth and Queen Creek roads.

When officers tried to pull him over, he refused to stop, leading them on a chase that went through Queen Creek and into Mesa.

At some point Gilbert officers backed off the chase, alerting nearby agencies to the situation and providing a description of the fleeing truck.

Units from the Mesa Police Department, as well as the Pinal County and Maricopa County sheriffs’ offices got involved.

Pinal County sheriff's deputies took the lead once they spotted the truck some time later and tried to use stop sticks to disable the vehicle and force it to stop. Even though the stop sticks blew out all four tires, the driver kept going.

While Mesa officers were not part of the pursuit itself, they offered traffic support, closing intersections to keel civilians safe, said Sgt. Ed Wessing of the Mesa Police Department.

Investigators believe that suspect might have deliberately driven his pickup truck into two unoccupied Mesa patrol vehicles, both of which were marked and had their lights activated. Police said the driver had the chance to avoid the patrol units, but apparently sped up and swerved toward them as he approached, narrowly missing a Mesa officer who was outside of his vehicle.

The collision sparked an explosion. The truck and two cars burst into flames.

Officers and deputies on the scene tried to get the driver out of the burning truck, but the intensity of the flames made it impossible for them to save him. The man died in the fire.

The suspect has not been identified. Investigators to not yet know why he fled police in the first place.

No officers or deputies were injured in the pursuit or fiery crash.

The intersection of Ellsworth and Baseline roads was closed for several hours.

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