MOUNT VERNON — Danville Police officer Chad Lishness is in serious condition at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center recovering from injuries sustained in a one car-pedestrian accident in Millwood on Sunday morning. Lishness was responding to a dispatch from a high-speed chase on U.S. 36 which originated in Mount Vernon.
The Mount Vernon Police Department received a report of a break-in at Barb’s Diner shortly before 6 a.m. Sunday. Officer Rex Young spotted a vehicle on South Main Street which matched the description of the suspected vehicle and attempted to stop the car on Howard Street. The driver, who was later identified as Joshua Baldridge, 18, Mount Vernon, fled from Young, proceeding east out of Mount Vernon on Ohio 229.
Lishness responded to the dispatch call and attempted to block the intersection of U.S. 36 and U.S. 62 in Millwood, near Spearman’s Restaurant, by placing stop sticks in the roadway. As Baldridge was approaching the intersection in Millwood, his vehicle struck Lishness who was taken by Air-Evac to OSU Medical Center.
His friends and colleagues are cautiously optimistic about his recovery. “It’s speculation,” said Danville Mayor Bob Dile, “but we’re thinking his bulletproof vest probably absorbed a lot of the shock. We’re very fortunate at this time. We are calling it a miracle.”
Danville officer injured in high speed pursuit through Knox County 8:47 p.m. –10:27 a.m. Sunday
Knox County Sheriff issues statement on chase 12:53 p.m. Sunday
Blue Alert for Knox County A Blue Alert is issued when an officer is missing, critically injured or killed and the suspect has not been arrested.
Police Chief Monte Vance and Sgt. Dan Weckesser visited with Lishness on Sunday, said Dile. Vance told Dile that Lishness is “doing better” as he was talking, laughing and in good spirits.
“He’s being kept in intensive care to monitor his progress to make sure there are no internal injuries,” Dile continued. “There are no broken bones. He has abrasions, of course, from hitting the pavement. They did an MRI on Sunday, and I think they determined there is no brain swelling or anything like that. At this point, it didn’t look like he had symptoms of concussion.”
Dile concluded, “Our thoughts and prayers are with him and his recovery.”
Lishness started out as an auxiliary officer with the DPD on May 21, 2012. He advanced to full-time status on Sept. 5.
MVPD Capt. George Hartz was aware of the chase and responded to the scene in Millwood. No traffic accidents had been reported prior to the accident in Millwood.
Officers with the Knox County Sheriff’s Office and the Ohio State Highway Patrol joined in the pursuit and arrived in Millwood for assistance.
According to Knox County Sheriff David Shaffer, Baldridge continued east of Millwood to Ohio 715 and reportedly stole a 2001 Ford Taurus from a residence on Flat Run Road.
A call then came in at 8:03 a.m. that a vehicle was in the roadway near the intersection of Goodall and Murray roads, south of Mount Vernon. KCSO Deputy Scott Baker responded to the scene to discover it was Baldridge who fled once again, prompting a chase which followed on Murray, Newark, Sycamore and Johnstown roads and ended on Ohio 3/U.S. 36 in Centerburg where Baldridge crashed into a parked car.
Baldridge was arrested and taken to the Knox County Jail. No charges had been filed as of this morning, but Shaffer expects charges to be taken to a grand jury.
Both vehicles driven by Baldridge are in the evidence area at the sheriff’s office and are being processed for additional information. Shaffer said he will be processing the vehicle information as well as reviewing radio traffic for further information on this incident.
The Ohio State Highway Patrol is investigating both accident scenes and told the News charges of operating a motor vehicle under the influence (OVI) will be filed against Baldridge.
Hartz told the News that his department does have a policy regarding high-speed chases but was unable to divulge any details. Any review or consideration of policy changes would come from Chief Mike Merrilees, he said.
News Staff Reporter Pam Schehl contributed to this story.
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