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Sheriff calls for action after deputy hit

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A man recently released from prison faces multiple felony charges in Polk County after seriously injuring a Greene County deputy during a high speed pursuit through Greene and Polk counties last week. 

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According to online court records, Seth Hay, 36, is charged in Polk County Circuit Court with class A felony first-degree assault — serious physical injury or special victim, two counts class B felony assault, class D felony second-degree kidnapping and class E felony resisting arrest.  

Per the probable cause statement, filed by the Greene County Sheriff’s Office, Lt. Steven Westbrook was standing behind his unmarked patrol car, with lights and sirens activated, near the intersection of southbound Mo. 13 and South 565th Road. As he attempted to deploy stop sticks, Hay drove his vehicle into the patrol car. 

Westbrook was hit by his own patrol car and thrown around 50 feet from the initial impact, the statement said. He suffered multiple broken bones and a head injury.  

In a social media post Friday night, GCSO said Westbrook, 55, has worked with the department for 24 years. He remains in serious but stable condition, the post said. 

According to the probable cause statement, deputies responded to a residence in the 1200 block of Rt. WW in Springfield at around 8:30 a.m. Friday, Dec. 11, for a domestic disturbance.

The victim said Hay, who “was released from prison several days before,” had come to the residence, kicked in the door and threatened her. 

The statement said Hay’s parole officer issued a parole violation warrant for him. 

Deputies found Hay, who had a passenger in his vehicle, driving in the area, the statement said. When they attempted to initiate a car stop, Hay failed to stop and drove northbound on Mo. 13, and a high speed pursuit began.

Hay reached speeds in excess of 100 mph, the statement said. 

When in Polk County, the deputies received assistance from the Missouri State Highway Patrol, the Polk County Sheriff’s Office and the Pleasant Hope Police Department, per a news release.  

The pursuit continued north to the intersection of Rt. U/Y and Mo. 13 just south of Bolivar, the statement said, where a Polk County deputy attempted to deploy spike strips to stop Hay’s vehicle and was nearly hit by the suspect’s vehicle. 

According to the statement, Hay then turned around and headed south on Mo. 13 to 565th Road in Polk County, where he crashed into Westbrook’s patrol car. 

“In what appears to be a deliberate act, the suspect veered off of the road and struck our deputy,” a news release stated.

The Missouri State Highway Patrol crash report said Westbrook's patrol vehicle was parked in a private drive with the deputy standing beside it.

Hay’s vehicle traveled off the right side of the roadway and struck the patrol car, which then hit Westbrook, the report stated.

The statement said Hay’s vehicle was airborne and landed in a ditch. Hay and his passenger were then taken into custody.  

Law enforcement also began immediately rendering aid to Westbrook, who had suffered “very serious injuries” and was transported via air ambulance to Cox South Hospital, the news release stated. 

The passenger in Hay’s vehicle told deputies he had met Hay earlier that day when they purchased and used methamphetamine together and drove to Hay’s residence, the statement said. He said he told Hay to pull over when deputies attempted to stop him. 

During the pursuit, Hay ate the remaining methamphetamine they’d purchased earlier, the statement said. He also used the passenger’s cell phone to call his wife to tell her goodbye and that he wasn’t going back to prison. 

When Hay saw Westbrook’s patrol vehicle parked on the side of Mo. 13, he drove toward it and said, “This is it,” the statement said.  

The passenger said he thought he was going to die during the collision, the statement said. 

Per the statement, Hay told deputies “he did not want to go back to prison and had lost everything.”

Polk County Sheriff Danny Morrison and Greene County Sheriff Jim Arnott thanked local law enforcement agencies for their assistance, the news release stated.  

“Fire, EMS, law enforcement and MODOT all worked seamlessly together in this event,” the release stated. 

"I would ask the community to please keep our deputy and his family in your thoughts and prayers,” Arnott said in the release. “We are working closely with Polk County Sheriff Morrison and the Missouri State Highway Patrol to investigate this incident. I want to also thank my deputies for their professionalism and dedication as we investigate this horrible assault.”

On Monday, Morrison told the BH-FP this incident is an example of why Missourians need to take a closer look at the state’s criminal justice system. He said the Missouri Sheriff’s Association is reaching out to state legislators with a truth-in-sentencing resolution.   

The statement said Hay’s criminal history includes convictions for domestic assault and resisting arrest. 

Morrison said Hay had been in and out of prison multiple times. 

“The suspect had recently been paroled from prison and committed this new offense that caused serious injuries to Lt. Westbrook and put the public in danger,” Morrison said. “This is not the first incident where a violent or dangerous individual that is paroled back into the community still poses a threat to the citizens.” 

More often than not, law enforcement is rearresting the same people over and over, Morrison said. 

“When these criminals are desperate to not go back to jail, it puts deputies at more risk of being assaulted or injured while trying to apprehend the criminal,” he said. 

Now is the time for action and change, he said. 

“We need to look into how these individuals are released back into the community by the Department of Corrections before their sentences are served,” Morrison said.  

Hay is being held on $250,000 cash or surety bond. He’s due in court Wednesday, Dec. 16. 

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