By MARK EVANS
STE. GENEVIEVE HERALD
Shortly after midnight Friday morning, a vehicle full of adults and juveniles led local law enforcement on a high-speed chase through downtown Ste. Genevieve and up Highway 61.
A Ste. Genevieve County deputy observed a red 2014 Ford Explorer stopped on Rozier Street at the Center Street stop sign. In his report, the deputy said he recognized the vehicle from descriptions of a suspicious vehicle the department had received.
He got behind the Ford and activated his lights and sirens near South Gabouri Street.
The vehicle, driven by Darion Amir Curlee, 26, of St. Louis, accelerated and continued on Center Drive into downtown. It ran stop signs until it made a right-hand turn on Washington Street. It then turned right on Front Street, then right onto Merchant Street.
Curlee headed up Merchant Street, doing about 70 miles per hour in a 20 miles per hour zone. He turned left on Fifth Street, then right on Market Street, heading north to Highway 61.
On 61, he was going more than 100 miles per hour, often in the wrong lane. After passing a vehicle at about 100 miles per hour, Curlee attempted to turn left onto Route O, running off the roadway and crashing on the right shoulder at about 12:25.
Seven occupants exited the vehicle. They were ordered to lie down flat on the ground. Six of them did so, but Jontez Huntley fled into the woods toward Interstate 55.
No weapons or contraband were found on the other six.
The other adult subject, Jalen Bardo, was bleeding in the face. He was transported to Mercy Jefferson.
Meanwhile, the Sheriff’s K-9 Aries was brought to track Jontez. He was later found walking on the side of I-55 and was detained by another deputy.
The vehicle was found to have been stolen. It contained $3,064 in cash, plus two counterfeit $50 bills, a black and white bag containing mail from a Ste. Genevieve address, as well as prescription medication and pay stubs. There was also a handgun, as well as a key to a 2019 Jeep Wrangler ad one to another Ford vehicle, among other items.
Curlee was arrested for failure to yield to an emergency vehicle, tampering with a motor vehicle (1st), unlawful use of a weapon, exceeded posted speed limit exceeding 26 miles per hour, operating a motor vehicle in a careless and imprudent manner, failure to signal/giving improper signal for a lane change, failure to stop at a stop sign am desisting or interfering with an arrest.
Jontez, who was transported from the hospital to the detention center, was charged with tampering with a vehicle (2nd) and resisting or interfering with arrest.