An area man faces several felony charges in Washington County after allegedly leading police on a multi-county, high-speed pursuit last week in a stolen truck.
Austin D. Hudson, 25, listed a homeless, was charged Friday with first-degree assault, armed criminal action, vehicle hijacking, first-degree tampering with a motor vehicle, possession of a controlled substance, and resisting a lawful stop.
According to a probable cause statement from the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, a pursuit began last Thursday when Hudson failed to stop for an emergency vehicle displaying lights and siren.
The report states that a deputy observed Hudson on Butler Hill Road in the bed of a 2007 Ford truck bearing a Missouri license plate that had been reported stolen out of Osage County.
When police pulled in behind the vehicle, Hudson reportedly exited the bed of the truck and got into the driver’s seat.
A deputy reported that the man then accelerated the vehicle toward a patrol car, forcing the Washington County Sheriff to put his vehicle into reverse to avoid being struck by Hudson’s truck.
Hudson then reportedly drove down Butler Hill Road before making a right turn onto Route A. The fleeing man drove on Route A toward Highway 47 at a high rate of speed, at times reaching speeds of more than 100 mph, according to the report.
At one point, the report states that the man passed the Richwoods School well over the speed limit, putting students and teachers at risk.
Once past the school, Hudson reportedly made a left turn onto Highway 47 and again continued fleeing at speeds faster than 100 mph.
The report states that Hudson crashed the truck near the 28,000 block of Highway 47 and ran into the woods.
While deputies attempted to locate the man, a white van pulled into the nearby driveway, and Hudson was seen exiting the woods, forcing a female driver to get out of the driver's seat and into the passenger’s seat.
Hudson then got behind the wheel of the van. At that point, two deputies positioned their patrol vehicle's behind the van and turned on their emergency lights and sirens, according to the report.
Hudson reportedly put the van in drive and accelerated westbound on Highway 47.
The pursuit continued as Hudson made a right turn onto Route FF, at a high rate of speed, and was passing vehicles unsafely, according to the statement.
As police were pursuing the van on Route FF, a man on a motorcycle was reportedly forced off the roadway and was injured as a result.
Hudson then fled down Route FF and made a left onto Highway 30. There, Missouri State Highway Patrol and the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office deployed spike strips, attempting to flatten the tires on the van. After numerous attempts from both agencies, they were eventually able to get the van’s front driver’s side tire spiked.
The chase continued with Hudson driving on the rim of the blown tire. The other three tires were still operational at that point, and Hudson continued down Highway 30.
A deputy attempted to pass the van to get in front of it, and when doing so, Hudson swerved the van toward the deputy, reportedly trying to strike his patrol vehicle. This attempt caused the deputy to have to swerve away from Hudson and decrease his speeds to avoid a collision.
During the pursuit, a deputy observed the female passenger in the front passenger’s seat stick her hand out the driver’s window. The woman then opened her hand releasing a plastic bag. The pursuing deputy called out the intersection road name in order to locate the plastic bag after the pursuit.
Hudson was still dodging spike strips from the assisting agency when the pursuit entered the city limits of St. Clair.
There, officers with St. Clair Police Department were on Highway 30 with spike strips and were able to spike multiple tires on the van, which came to a stop on Highway 30 near East Springfield Road.
Hudson was then taken into custody by police. The high-speed pursuit lasted a total of 22.4 miles.
The man was booked into the Washington County Jail, and a $150,000 cash-only bond was set in the case.
Officers discovered that there were two female passengers in the van. The woman riding in the front passenger’s seat during the chase stated that the van was hers. She told police that she had come to pick up Hudson, but did not know that he was running from law enforcement.
The woman reported that when Hudson came out of the woods, he forced her to get out of the driver’s seat and into the passenger seat. She said she begged him to let her out of the vehicle or to slow down enough for her to jump out of the vehicle while it was moving.
The woman further stated she was just going to pick him up for her sister, who was reportedly dating the man. She said that when she asked Hudson to let her out, he told her no and kept his speeds high to keep her from jumping out of the vehicle.
The other female passenger told police that she was the one who tossed the narcotics out the window during the pursuit, however, the other woman was seen doing it.
When the other woman was asked about the narcotics, she reportedly stated that Hudson handed it to her and told her to throw the drugs out the window.
According to the report, the truck in which Hudson had initially fled was reported stolen out of St. Louis County.
Inside the truck, police located multiple plastic bags containing residue as well as several used syringes. The residue found inside the bags field-tested positive for methamphetamine.
The bag tossed out of the van window during the chase reportedly contained multiple plastic bags with white residue, which also field-tested positive for methamphetamine.
Documents indicate that Hudson did not have an operator’s license at the time of the pursuit, and only had an ID card, which was expired.
One deputy noted in his report that Hudson had fled from him before on Jan. 7, 2019.
During the previous pursuit, Hudson ran from police in a stolen vehicle with firearms and narcotics inside. The chase ended after Hudson crashed the vehicle and took off on foot. He was eventually taken into custody.
The man pleaded guilty on June 17, 2019, to one count of felony possession of a controlled substance (meth), as well as one count of resisting an arrest. He was sentenced to serve seven years in prison on the drug charge, and three years for resisting arrest. Court records indicate the man was released on parole.
A search of Hudson’s criminal history shows he has been arrested in the past for stealing, two counts of attempting to obtain a controlled substance, tampering, resisting arrest, being a felon in possession of a firearm, and possession of drug paraphernalia charges.
Bobby Radford is a reporter for the Daily Journal. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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