What started out as a routine traffic stop in the Marshfield area last month turned into a vehicle pursuit with law enforcement that resulted in several criminal charges against a Bolivar man.
In total, Justin D. Ward, 27, faces four charges in connection to the Dec. 23 incident, including two Class D felonies for first-degree tampering with a motor vehicle and possession of a controlled substance, and two Class E felonies for resisting arrest and first-degree property damage.
A deputy with the Webster County Sheriff’s Office said in a probable cause statement he was patrolling an area of Rt. W in the Marshfield area when he observed a blue Dodge Ram 2500 crossing the center line of the road several times as he followed behind it. While attempting to initiate a traffic stop as the Dodge entered Marshfield city limits, the deputy said the driver, later identified as Ward, made no effort to stop or yield to the shoulder. An additional patrol unit joined in the pursuit as the vehicle continued to flee, according to the statement.
The pursuit covered about 15 miles, according to the statement, with Ward striking several mailboxes, damaging multiple gates, fences and a stop sign and driving through numerous fields in the process. During the course of the pursuit, the statement said a passenger in the Dodge managed to exit the vehicle without Ward stopping. The passenger was unharmed but fell to the ground while exiting, the deputy said in the statement.
Eventually, Ward’s vehicle became disabled in a field south of a location on Rt. EE, and the deputy said in the statement the Dodge was confirmed stolen out of Springfield on Dec. 19.
After being taken into custody, Ward admitted to fleeing because he had an active Polk County warrant, according to the statement. He also said he was aware the Dodge was reported stolen and admitted to possessing several syringes in the vehicle for the purpose of using methamphetamine, the statement said.
An inventory of the vehicle located syringes in the driver’s seat area, along with a baggie of a crystalline substance that field tested positive for meth, according to the statement.
The deputy said in the statement a Department of Revenue check indicated Ward’s license was revoked with two prior convictions in 2017 for driving while revoked.
According to court records, Ward also has an active criminal case of first-degree tampering with a vehicle in Polk County. According to the probable cause statement, Ward was involved in a car crash on Dec. 8 on Rt. H in which the Ford pickup was rear-ended by a Dodge Neon, causing Ward’s vehicle, which was reported stolen, to hit a northbound Ford Ranger pickup.
He is currently in the Webster County Jail on a $75,000 bond and has a court hearing scheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 20, in Webster County Circuit Court.