UNIVERSITY HEIGHTS — A Wisconsin man led police on a high speed pursuit through University Heights as the area was full with people leaving the Back Porch Revival concert at Kinnick Stadium.
According to University Heights criminal complaints, around 11:47 p.m. Saturday, University Heights Police Chief Ken Stanley attempted to pull over 20-year-old Dylan L. Sockness, of Wautoma, WI., for speeding on Melrose Avenue just east of Mormon Trek Boulevard.
Police said Sockness turned onto Finkbine Lane, stopped and looked back at the officer. The officer called out to Sockness to turn off his vehicle, but Sockness instead drove away. Police said Sockness reached speeds of 100 mph in the 25 mph zone on Melrose Avenue. He crashed through a road closed sign and nearly hit two people controlling traffic, police said.
The chase continued through University Heights, which was full of people having left the concert at Kinnick. Police said Sockness nearly collided the numerous vehicles and pedestrians. He also ran a red light at the intersection of Melrose Avenue and Sunset Street.
Police said Sockness failed to negotiate a turn onto Olive Court, left the road and collided with a residence. Stanley said the car moved a wall, but did not go through it. The owners were inside at the time of the collision, but were not injured.
He and a female passenger got out of the car and fled on foot. Sockness was caught after a short foot chase that ended with a Taser deployment. The passenger — a 16-year-old runaway wanted on multiple felony warrants from Wisconsin — was also later found.
Police said the 16-year-old suffered a bruise and abrasion from her right shoulder down her chest from the seat belt during the chase. Sockness also suffered injuries from hitting the steering wheel when he collided with the house.
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Stephanie McCracken, one of the many witnesses of the chase, said she was “praying and hoping no one was killed” after Sockness raced by her and others.
“The guy directing traffic had to jump out of the way,” said McCracken, of Cedar Rapids. “He almost smashed this guy right in front of us. This guy could have killed anybody.”
McCracken, who identified herself as “pro-cop,” said she questioned the wisdom of engaging in a high speed pursuit, especially given the number of people out, including who had been drinking.
Stanley, a former California Highway Patrol officer who said he has hundreds of high speed chases under his belt, said the department’s policy is to use officer’s discretion when determining whether to engage in a pursuit. In this case, Stanley said the chase was justified.
“My philosophy is probably a little bit more aggressive than others,” he said. “There’s always a balance. I don’t believe that balance had been tipped to the side that it should have been terminated.”
Stanley said Sockness and the 16-year-old told him they were in Iowa City visiting friends. Stanley said he thinks their relationship, her status as a runaway and the warrants for her arrest were what led them to try to flee.
The 16-year-old was taken to the Linn County Juvenile Detention Center. She faces one count of interference with official acts.
Sockness now faces charges of first-degree criminal mischief, a Class C felony; child endangerment causing bodily injury, a Class D felony; eluding while participating in a felony, a Class D felony; and interference with official acts, a simple misdemeanor. The offenses carry a potential sentence is excess of 20 years in prison.