A man pleaded guilty to charges stemming from a police pursuit that took place early July in St. Francois County.
Zachery Vanbuskirk, 31, of De Soto, was charged on Aug. 11 with seven criminal counts, including second-degree assault, resisting arrest by fleeing, first-degree property damage, driving in the wrong direction of the highway causing immediate threat of an accident, operating a vehicle in a careless and imprudent manner, driving without a valid license, and exceeding the posted speed limit by 26 mph or more.
Last Friday, Vanbuskirk appeared before Circuit Judge Wendy Wexler Horn, where he entered guilty pleas to six of the seven counts and was sentenced to serve jail time and probation.
Vanbuskirk first pleaded guilty to the felonies of second-degree assault, resisting a lawful stop, and property damage. Judge Horn accepted the state’s recommendation, placing Vanbuskirk on five years of supervised probation. The sentence handed down by the court on the three counts includes special conditions that Vanbuskirk serves shock time of 60 days in the St. Francois County Jail, with credit for time served.
On the charges of driving in the wrong direction of the highway causing an immediate threat of an accident, Vanbuskirk was sentenced to serve 30 days in jail. The man was given another 30-day jail term on the charge of operating a vehicle in a careless and imprudent manner. Both jail terms are to be served concurrently, or at the same time, with credit for time already served.
Additionally, the De Soto man was ordered to pay a $100 fine for driving without a valid license. The prosecution dismissed the charge of exceeding the posted speed limit by 26 mph or more, according to court documents.
Vanbuskirk still faces 26 ordinance violations related to the chase that were filed in the City of Desloge on Thursday.
The case moved quickly through the county court system, having been filed less than a month ago, and with the offenses occurring less than two months ago.
According to a probable cause statement from the St. Francois County Sheriff’s Department, a deputy was patrolling the area of U.S. 67 on the evening of July 1, when he observed a passenger vehicle missing a front license plate and displaying a rear plate that expired in 2017.
The report states that when the deputy attempted to make a traffic stop, the driver, identified as Vanbuskirk, failed to yield and immediately sped up to approximately 100 mph, continuing southbound reaching speeds of 105 mph while failing to maintain a single lane.
The driver then reportedly got off the highway at the Parkway Drive exit in Park Hills, eventually driving across the overpass in the wrong lane. The fleeing car continued onto Doss Road, a dead-end road, where it went off-road through a field and back onto Parkway Drive. The vehicle then made a right turn onto Eastern Outer Road, failing to stop at the stop sign at the intersection of Halter Road.
According to the statement, the vehicle headed north toward Thornbird Road, where it went off-road again through a field and cut through the House of Praise Church parking lot at approximately 50 mph, before coming back out onto Dakota Road.
The report states that Vanbuskirk then attempted to strike a deputy's vehicle head-on with his vehicle but missed him. The driver reportedly made it back onto U.S. 67, traveling northbound at speeds of 100 mph while weaving in and out of traffic and changing lanes erratically.
The vehicle entered into Jefferson County, where troopers set up spike strips at U.S. 67 and Papin Road. When the pursuit approached Papin Road, the report states that Vanbuskirk attempted to avoid the spike strips and almost struck the trooper’s patrol vehicle. Despite efforts, the car did drive over the spike strips causing the front driver’s side tire to deflate.
The deputy reports that Vanbuskirk continued driving carelessly and made a left turn off U.S. 67 onto Long Road, where the car tire that had been spiked completely came off the rim. The man continued to drive on the rim at 80 mph in the wrong lane.
According to the statement, Vanbuskirk made a left turn onto Route V despite multiple signs advising that the highway was closed due to construction. When the pursuit approached the closed highway’s barricades, Vanbuskirk drove through, hitting the road signs and crashing through the barricades. The man turned right onto Hardin Road and then left onto Silver Springs Road, reaching speeds of 40-60 mph while driving in the lane of oncoming traffic.
As the driver turned left onto Berry Road, the passenger jumped out of the car. The pursuit continued a short distance before finally coming to a stop. Once stopped, a deputy gave Vanbuskirk verbal commands to get out of the vehicle and to lie on the ground, to which he did not comply. A K9 was deployed and apprehended the man.
A registration check revealed that Vanbuskirk did not have a valid driver’s license and had a no-bond warrant out of Jefferson County for driving while revoked.
According to the report, the vehicle was searched, and officers found a glass pipe with residue inside, commonly associated with smoking methamphetamine.
Bobby Radford is a reporter for the Daily Journal. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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