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DPS troopers disable cars in 45-minute chase on Interstate 35

DPS troopers disable cars in 45-minute chase on Interstate 35

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The drivers of two cars were arrested after a 45-minute pursuit on Interstate 35 Monday morning that ended when Texas Department of Public Safety troopers ran them off the road, causing one to roll over, authorities said.

Several area agencies assisted DPS in the pursuit, which started around 8:30 a.m. in response to a report of a possible drunk driver traveling southbound into Waco on I-35 in a Toyota Tacoma, said DPS Sgt. Bryan Washko.

A state trooper located the vehicle and ran the license plates, discovering that it was stolen, Washko said. The trooper tried to pull over the Tacoma, but the driver fled, he said. As the trooper pursued the Tacoma, a Nissan sedan attempted to ram the trooper's car, he said.

The trooper called additional units for backup while pursuing the two vehicles, which split up on I-35. Troy and Temple police departments assisted in the pursuit along with the Bell County Sheriff's Office.

A DPS vehicle disabled the Nissan near Exit 306 in Troy on the southbound frontage road using the "pursuit intervention technique," in which the cruiser pushes the vehicle's rear end sideways to destabilize it. The driver ran but was caught and taken to a local hospital to be treated for a minor fall injury, authorities said.

Meanwhile, another DPS unit used the same technique to disable the Tacoma in Temple, causing the truck to flip and its airbags to deploy, police said. The vehicle landed right-side-up and the driver was not injured, Washko said.

Washko said the maneuver is only used in situations that pose a public danger, and only when an officer has found a safe area to perform it.

Officials arrested Damon Joe Gutierrez, 29, of Dallas, the driver of the Nissan, and charged him with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and evading arrest in a motor vehicle, both felonies.

The driver of the Tacoma, Rosendo Lopez, 27, also of Dallas, was charged with evading arrest with a motor vehicle and unauthorized use of a stolen vehicle, both felonies.

Officials are trying to determine if there is any relationship between the two men.

Both were arrested and taken to McLennan County Jail, and no bond had been set as of Monday.

Correction: An earlier online version of this story misstated the agency affiliation of Sgt. Washko of the Texas Department of Public Safety. The Waco Police Department was not involved in the case.

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Hailing from the Chicagoland area, Amaris E. Rodriguez is a 2019 graduate of Northeastern Illinois University and formerly worked the Journal & Topics news organization in Des Plains, Ill. Steve Boggs Editor

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