Police arrest driver, passenger after pursuit of stolen SUV ends in crash

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Alexis Ketchum and Jose Vera

UPDATE (Dec. 26, 2017)– Jose Vera was sentenced to about two-and-a-half years (931 days) to the Indiana Department of Correction. He also received 328 days of probation, with the first 180 days to be served as work release.

Original story:

COLUMBUS, Ind. – Police arrested two Columbus residents accused of leading officers on a 30-minute chase in a stolen vehicle.

Around 5 a.m. Sunday, Officer Travis Harbaugh with the Columbus Police Department spotted the SUV near Indiana Avenue and Salzburg Boulevard and realized it had been reported stolen.

Harbaugh tried to stop the black GMC Envoy, but the SUV sped off, resulting in a pursuit. Officers followed the vehicle out of Columbus. Officers tried to deploy tire deflation devices but were unable to because of the vehicle’s high speed.

The Envoy drove through several farm fields as the driver and passenger tried to evade police. The vehicle ran over an electric fence before going down an embankment and crashing into several trees along Clifty Creek in the 19000 block of County Road 410 North near Hartsville.

The suspects got out of the car and tried to run away. A Bartholomew County sheriff’s deputy caught Alexis P. Ketchum, 18, Columbus, a short time later.

K-9 Argo and his handler apprehended the driver of the vehicle, Jose O. Vera, 30, Columbus, who was hiding in Clifty Creek and refused to come out. He was later taken to Columbus Regional Hospital for treatment for a dog bite and possible hypothermia.

Both Vera and Ketchum were eventually transported to the Bartholomew County Jail. Preliminary charges against Vera include auto theft, resisting law enforcement and driving while suspended with a prior conviction. Preliminary charges against Ketchum include auto theft and resisting law enforcement.