Grand County Sheriff’s Deputy Darrel Meacham was on routine patrol on Aug. 17, driving southbound on Highway 191 in an unmarked police vehicle north of Moab when he was passed in a no-passing zone by a white Toyota Tundra.
Meacham activated his police lights, but the driver refused to pull over.
Instead, the suspect led officers from multiple agencies on a 75-mile chase through both Moab and Monticello before finally stopping fourteen miles east of Monticello on State Route 491.
Nick Jonas Lopez, 33, of Towaoc, Colo., was charged with failure to stop/respond at command of police, passing on right of vehicle, driving under the influence of alcohol, reckless driving, intoxication, open container, disorderly conduct, never obtained a drivers license and assault by prisoner.
Meacham said that Lopez passed him at Milemarker 137 on Highway 191 north of Moab, near Dalton Wells Road at 11:37 p.m. When Meacham turned on the lights, Lopez didn’t respond and picked up speed. Lopez reached 100 miles per hour going through Moab Canyon north of Moab, Meacham said.
Moab City Police Officer Aaron Woodard assisted from Milemarker 133 and called out speeds and milemarkers so Deputy Meacham could focus on the pursuit. The officers backed-off when they made it to the Colorado River Bridge.
“I told officers to stay back,” Meacham said. “I didn’t want him to go through town fast.”
Lopez turned the lights off his car while traveling at 50 miles per hour when he passed Grand County Credit Union north of Moab. Officer Chris Brewer of the Moab City Police cleared Main Street of foot traffic.
Sergeant Mike Wiler joined the pursuit that continued south of Moab with speeds between 65 and 100 miles per hour, according to the Moab City Police report.
City of Monticello police officers and deputies from the San Juan County Sheriff’s Office set up spikes north of the Monticello Airport. Grand County and Moab City officers continued the pursuit, speeding up and slowing down as Lopez did. Once they neared the area where the spikes were set the officers again backed off from the chase.
Meacham said that Lopez almost came to a complete stop where the spikes were set, but continued moving forward, taking out both front tires. Lopez continued driving.
Lopez made a left turn off Highway 191 onto State Route 491 heading east to Cortez, Colo. reaching speeds between 75 and 85 miles per hour on two wheels. The vehicle also went east bound into the west bound lanes, forcing vehicles off the highway, according to the Moab City Police report.
The vehicle came to a complete stop at Milemarker 14 on SR 491.
“I think he tried to shift,” Meacham said. “It went in reverse and tore his tranny out.”
Officers surrounded the vehicle and pulled their guns. When Lopez got out of the vehicle he urinated on the ground near the truck.
One of the officers advised Lopez to not move, or a dog would be released. Lopez then tried to get back into the truck and turned on the engine, but the vehicle wouldn’t move, according to the Moab City Police report. Lopez was subdued, cuffed and searched.
A female passenger, Srilanka Shy Fawn Cotonuts, 27, of Fredonia, Ariz., was also arrested. Cotonuts had warrants from Uintah County for failure to remain at the site of an accident and driving under the influence and a warrant from Emery County for driving on revocation or suspension of driver’s license. She was charged will failure to stop/ respond at the command of police, disorderly conduct, intoxication and open container.
The two were booked into the Grand County Jail. Their court date is set for Sept. 4 in the Seventh District Court.
“I hate chases,” Meacham said. “But this was the best chase I’ve been in. There was cooperation from all agencies. We got through town, got him spiked and got him arrested.”