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Pursuit leads to crash with patrol car in Oelwein

This SUV, driven by Blayze Harding of Oelwein, crashed into an Oelwein patrol car Monday evening at the intersection of Sixth Avenue SW and West Charles Street, during a high speed chase with a Fayette County Sheriff’s Deputy.

A high-speed pursuit through the southwest side of Oelwein Monday evening ended when the pursuing vehicle crashed into the side of an Oelwein squad car.

A Fayette County Sheriff’s Deputy attempted to stop a vehicle in the 600 block of Highway 150 South shortly after 11 p.m. Monday. The driver failed to stop, and a pursuit began that led through southwest Oelwein, to West Charles and Sixth Avenue SW.

Fayette County Sheriff Marty Fisher reported his Deputy said the driver accelerated at a high rate of speed and posed a danger to citizens.

“There are different shifts working in Oelwein and any number of persons could have been in danger,” Sheriff Fisher said.

The pursuit continued northbound on Sixth Avenue SW. At the intersection of Sixth Avenue and West Charles, an Oelwein Police Officer responding to assist the deputy, was struck broadside when the driver ran the stop sign. The officer was taken by ambulance to MercyOne Oelwein Medical Center to be evaluated.

The driver involved in the pursuit, Blayze L. Harding, 26, of Oelwein, was checked by emergency personnel at the scene and was not injured. He was taken into custody. A passenger in the Harding vehicle was also not injured.

The Fayette County Sheriff’s Office charged Harding with eluding, possession of methamphetamine third offense, both Class D felonies, driving while barred and possession of marijuana third offense, both aggravated misdemeanors. During the pursuit, Harding also committed several moving traffic violations including striking the Oelwein patrol car.

Sheriff Fisher said Harding hit the patrol car right behind the driver’s seat. Fisher said had the officer arrived a half-second sooner, the outcome could have been much worse.

Oelwein Police Chief Jeremy Logan said the Oelwein officer is doing well.

“He was treated and later released. He is sore from the accident and we hope to have him return to work next week,” Logan reported. He also clarified that an earlier account of the incident on The Daily Register Facebook page was incorrect and the officer was not attempting to block the intersection. Logan said the officer was en route to the area to assist with the chase when the suspect ignored the stop sign and collided with the patrol car.

The Sheriff’s Office said the case remains under investigation and more charges are pending. Assisting at the scene were the Oelwein Police Department, Iowa State Patrol, MercyOne Ambulance, and the Oelwein Fire Department.