3 hour RCMP chase goes across land, air and water

RCMP said a suspect led officers on a long chase after stealing two vehicles and driving from Watrous to Last Mountain Lake.
RCMP said a suspect led officers on a long and dangerous chase after stealing two vehicles and driving from Watrous to Last Mountain Lake. (Google Maps)

Friday night was far from a typical day on the job for Watrous RCMP.

At about 5:30 p.m. CST, Const. Brendan Fonteyne with Watrous RCMP noticed a truck that was reported stolen from Davidson. Watrous is about 117 kilometres southeast of Saskatoon.

When Fonteyne tried to pull the truck over near Watrous, he said the driver took off, and drove through a field where a farmer was swathing. The officer says the suspect then hopped into the farmer's truck and drove away again.

Fonteyne called for backup and the chase continued for about two hours.

RCMP contacted the owner of the first stolen truck, which was taken in the town of Craik.

Through the air

The vehicle's owner, who has a private plane, voluntarily went into the air and located the second stolen vehicle in a field west of Stalwart - about 50 kilometres south of Watrous.

"My understanding is that he just went up in his plane and he said, 'Well I'll look for him and I'll let you guys know when I find him,'" Fonteyne said. "It took about five minutes before he said, 'There's a dark crew cab in the middle of a field just outside of Stalwart here so I'm guessing that's your guy."

As the suspect drove through fields, Fonteyne said there was some concern he would get away because it was tough to see him.

"Until that plane came out and found him in the field, we didn't know."

Fonteyne and other RCMP officers cornered the suspect in in a field, but he hit one of the police cruisers and continued to drive south on Highway 2 towards the village of Liberty.

RCMP eventually got a bit of help from OnStar. The in-vehicle security company cut the power to the suspect's vehicle and it died near Etter's Beach on the western shore of Last Mountain Lake.

"He didn't realize that OnStar was going to cut the power to his rig," Fonteyne said.

Into the water

After trying to steal another vehicle, RCMP said the suspect jumped in the lake and started swimming away from the shore.

"(The suspect) said that his plan was to take a boat across Last Mountain Lake and we'd never find him again," Fonteyne said. "But I guess the boat he was looking for wasn't there."

Luckily for RCMP, a man was loading his boat onto a trailer at the same time. Fonteyne said two officers jumped into the man's boat, went out into the water, pulled the suspect out, and arrested him.

"I think he was quite tired," Fonteyne said. "He was going under the water quite a bit."

RCMP finally made the arrest at 8:40 p.m., after a 3-hour pursuit through land, air and in the lake.

"We weren't sure what to expect," Fonteyne said. "When we did catch up to him we're like, 'Hey, what are you doing?' He's just like, 'Hey, just going for a swim.' He's just very nonchalant like he didn't really care."

The suspect faces a number of charges, including flight from police, theft of a truck, possession of stolen property over $5,000, and resisting arrest.

With files from CBC's Tory Gillis