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By Cynthia Haggitt
Fireworks high over Kampsville on Saturday night offered a brightly surreal backdrop to the real action taking place below.
Sometime around 9:20p.m. Saturday night, law enforcement officials began a high-speed chase in Grafton that passed through several counties before finally ending with the arrest of 40-year-old Christopher Raines of White Hall.
According to Madison County Captain Will Dimitroff, “We did begin the pursuit of the suspect as it started here in Madison County and Jersey County Police began pursuing him as we had to back off because of safety regulations. The chase however, ended in Calhoun County, under the Sheriff’s jurisdiction.”
Calhoun County Sheriff Bill Heffington said he was monitoring calls on other emergency channels while making his rounds as the Kampsville Celebration ended.
“I was scanning another police agency where they were in pursuit of a guy armed with a knife and had possibly abducted two people held at knifepoint. When I heard the chase come in off of Illinois Route 3 into Grafton. The suspect’s vehicle was heading northbound speeding in a red mustang convertible at approximately 110 miles per hour by Pere Marquette Park. I told my deputies and my officers that the suspect was leading other police officers at very high speeds and coming up Route 100,” Heffington said. “My deputies and myself decided to head to the Joe Padge Bridge to wait patiently for the suspect.”
Heffington said after the suspect ended up flying through all three stopp arms as the chase progressed, law enforcement officials hoped to raise the Joe Hardin Bridge to prevent the driver from crossing the Mississippi River, but they couldn’t get authorization in time to do so. Instead, they dropped the stop arms on the bridge and barricaded the passage with Heffingon’s car on the other side of the bridge.
“I had one officer on the east side of the bridge waiting, and I and the chief deputy were set on the west side bridge where we had spike strips down. I had my vehicle sideways on the bridge,” Heffington finished.
Heffington explained after he had cleared the bridge he could hear the car breaking through the gates.
“I kept hearing this crushing sound as he was going through each gate,” Sheriff Heffington said. “When he got to me on the bridge, he almost hit my truck by attempting to side swipe me. I moved just in time but somehow he missed, just barely. I don’t know, I was very lucky.”
According to Heffington, Hill ended up bouncing sideways at first, on the road, as he headed back north. Heffington followed in pursuit and made a call to the North Calhoun Fire Department.
“Those guys did an awesome job. They had their trucks there by the American Legion building facing the south side of Kampsville, and got the road blocked off,” Heffington said.
Heffington was really concerned because if this guy went blowing through the area at 110 mph. He feared for families and kids safety because the Kampsville Celebration ended.
“As soon as the fire department got their trucks into position this guy was coming in, running without his headlights on, and the driver decided not to hit the fire trucks,” Heffington said.
Instead, Hill lost control of the mustang and Heffington stayed right on him the whole time and went into a neighbor’s yard just north of the American Legion.
“He crashed into a utility shed that was raised on some blocks,” Heffington said. “He knocked into it and flew 10 feet before coming to a stop.”
Heffington says he placed his truck blocking the driver’s side to prevent Hill from escaping.
“After a call into EMS, they took him to the hospital where they treated him and he was released into our custody. He was charged with multiple charges ranging from:
• Aggravated Fleeing,
• Attempting To Elude Police Officers,
• A Weapons With a Knife Charge,
• Possession of Methamphetamine,
• Possession Of A Controlled Substance,
• Destruction of Government Property (the Joe Page Bridge)
• Possession of Hypodermic Needles and
• Warrants in St. Louis County and the City of Alton.
Dimithoff said the reason he is not in Madison County’s custody is because he is sitting in Jersey County jail on Calhoun charges brought forth by Sheriff Heffington.
“We are still investigating and will most likely result in additional charges after the case is brought forth by the Madison Court States Attorney,” Dimithoff said.
The Joe Page Bridge was fixed and opened today for transportational use. It was blocked off less than 48 hrs after the incident and it did cause some havoc to the Calhoun citizens.