An area man has been charged with several felonies after police say he stole a Jeep, took it for a joyride, wrecked it and then ran from the crash.

Kaleb Sanders, 26, Cadet, is being charged with a class B felony of assault in the second degree, felony armed criminal action, a class D felony of tampering in the first degree and a class D felony of unlawful possession of a firearm.

According to a probable cause statement, on Dec. 3 at 6:06 a.m. a deputy was called to the 10,000 block of Arnault Branch Rd. in Cadet for a theft of a 2005 Jeep Liberty.

The reporting party said her boyfriend was chasing the Jeep in a JV Contracting truck and she also told the officer there were two firearms in the back seat, a Ruger M77 Hawkeye and a Ruger Cabine 44 magnum.

Once the deputy obtained a written report from the woman, he went and canvassed the area. The deputy located the stolen Jeep and the JV Contracting truck in the 14,000 block of Arnault Rd. near Pat Daly Road. He reported that it appeared both vehicles collided head on.

The report said there was heavy front-end damage on the driver’s side of the Jeep and the door was hanging open with no one around. The deputy saw the two firearms still in the back seat and then he checked the truck, but no one was around.

The deputy began looking for the drivers and found the reporting party’s boyfriend. He said he had started up the Jeep so it could warm up before he left to go hunting. He said he left it running in the driveway with the rear driver’s door open.

He said he only left it unattended for three minutes when he heard the door close and saw the Jeep leaving. He said he pursued the Jeep and lost sight of it in the area of Arnault Road and Foxtrot Road. He added he continued down the road until he got to Pat Daly Road and continued to Route F where he turned around to head back.

The man said while driving east on Arnault Road, he saw a vehicle without its headlights topping the hill. He was able to recognize it as his Jeep and he began to slow down. When the Jeep's headlights came back on he tried to flag down the driver.

He said the driver, later identified as Sanders, accelerated and hit his truck head on. When the man got out of his truck he saw the driver of the Jeep running away. He was wearing a gray shirt. He said he attempted to give chase but lost sight of the man in the dark wooded area.

The deputy investigated and found a green lighter on the north side of the road, east of the accident. The man did not identify the lighter as his, but did say it was in the direction the man ran. The deputy also saw a handprint on the rear driver’s door window of the Jeep.

The man said since the door was open, Sanders must have shut it. The deputy was able to lift some fingerprints off the window and due to the accident, fluids had leaked onto the center of the roadway. The deputy found footprints and took pictures and measurements.

The deputy also found an imprint in the windshield of the Jeep, consistent with a forehead mark. At 7:14 a.m. another deputy located Sanders walking on Pat Daly Road near Sugarloaf Road and the first deputy went over there to assist.

The deputy immediately noticed that Sanders was wearing a gray shirt and had injuries to his head consistent with the accident. Sanders was taken to the Washington County Jail on a warrant through Jefferson County.

During an interview, Sanders said he was walking when he saw the Jeep running. He said he got into it and took off down Arnault Branch Road. Sanders said he had a girlfriend down south and he was thinking he would take a road trip down there.

Sanders said while driving on Arnault Branch Road, he was involved in a crash with a truck of some sort and he left on foot and ran through the woods. 

Sanders was being held in the Washington County Jail on a $50,000 bond. 

Renee Bronaugh is a reporter for the Daily Journal and can be reached at 573-518-3617 or rbronaugh@dailyjournalonline.com

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