Let’s talk, you and I, about chases.
(Hah, anyone gets that reference I’ll personally send them something cool. I don’t know what, but something.)
No, this chase wasn’t a high speed car chase with a moron who allegedly raped his girlfriend and snatched her car. No, this was a bit…less intense (but no less exciting…I know, I’m not supposed to enjoy chases because they always inherently dangerous…and they are absolutely dangerous, but man, they are exciting!)
No, this wasn’t a car chase…it was waaaaayyyyyy slower than that.
A four-wheeler. Yeah, you read that right. An ATV.
In the bush.
On what couldn’t even charitably be called a road. More like a pot-hole lined seventeenth century ox path.
Oh, yeah, that chase was doomed to fail before it even got started.
Being a rural county, we have lots and lots of old county roads. Some are paved and some are nothing more than gravel paths the farmers use to get from field to field. But the best gravel road, in my opinion, is one that runs along the rail tracks sitting next to the Illinois River. Just about every freakin’ day during the summer you can find anything you’re looking for: booze, drugs, sex, illegal hunting, illegal trash dumping, illegal off-roading in semi-legal 4X4s, stolen cars, dumped weapons. It’s a treasure trove of goofiness.
(Like the day a guy called and said if we didn’t get down to a particular tiny private island, he was going to shoot all the Russians who were out there partying with their vodka and their dogs. Never found the guy, the island, or the Russians, but I was fairly keyed up for a pissed off guy with a gun!)
But what we have mostly out there are ATVs, running through private property, running the railraod rights of way, running the county roads at high speed, and doing donuts in the roads and tearing them up, generally causing young man type mayhem. The incidents aren’t terrible, and they’re malicious only in that they aren’t well thought out, the way young men who watch a lot of Spike TV usually are.
So I’m down on a river bottom road a few weeks ago and I see a guy tearing hell outta that road about a half mile away from me. I take off, trying to get to him before he really knows I’m there.
Yeah, bad decision.
First of all, he probably saw me before I saw him. Secondly, he’s on a freakin’ four wheeler! There are only about eight billion places for him to take off and leave me behind.
Where does he go? Off the road, toward the private beaches. Turns at the last minute down the right of way paths on either side of the railroad tracks.
And, stupidly, I followed.
Flying down this path, dodging bits of railroad tie and pieces of used track and random chunks of railroad company detritus. And flying…ffffllllllyyyyyyyyyying. At least that’s how it felt from behind the wheel, though it was probably only twenty miles an hour
I get on the radio to let dispatch know what’s going on and where I am and to let the next town down the line know what’s up so they can send an officer to where the path comes out and bouncing my ass around inside the car because of the potholes and my music is on too loud and my head already hurts from bad sinuses and this guy won’t stop and –
The pothole was about as big as an Abrams tank. And what went out over the radio, when I hit the thing, was: “Son of a – “
Luckily, I was saved my by own stupidity. I got bounced so hard by that pothole that I dropped the mic. The rest of that purely professional sentiment got chopped off, thank the Gods.
I chased and chased and more fully realized my idiocy with each passing yard. The ATV got smaller and smaller and the guy kept looking back at me. I think he was probably surprised to see a big ol’ crime cruiser dashing along that road.
Eventually, I got to a turn, took it, and hit the regular gravel road. Then I smashed down some speed and got to one of our smaller towns pretty quick. Their PD was already there, the assistant chief, and while he didn’t actually laugh in my face, I think he wanted to.
Because between where I’d been and where he was, there were only about nine-billion places for an ATV to turn and disappear. There was no way in hell that ATV was going to pop out at that town.
But kudos to the city copper, because he was sitting there per my request, as stupid as he knew the request to be.
And of course, because I work with the most loving and supportive group of people imaginable, they never allowed themselves a moment’s mirth at my expense.
Yeah, right, whatever. They laughed their asses off, and still remind me about cussing on the radio.
And Officer Friendly gave me a ton of crap about chasing a four wheeler in a car. “You’re such a new guy,” he said. “All fire and brimstone.” Then he laughed and told me I was never going to catch a four-wheeler in a squad car unless we were on a highway or paved road or the like.
Hah, I guess I showed him. The next four-wheeler chase was on a highway…at least before it went to a county road…which was before it went into a beanfield….
And I didn’t catch that one, either.