The driver of a car that was reported stolen from the parking lot of Red Roof Liquor & Lottery in Columbia on Thursday led police on a brief pursuit into St. Clair County before eventually traveling back into Columbia on I-255 southbound and crashing into a septic cleaning truck less than an hour later.
A black 2005 Honda two-door sedan that was left unlocked with its keys inside was reported stolen by a white male wearing a white shirt from the gas station about noon, police said. Columbia police caught up to the vehicle but terminated pursuit on Bluffside Road at Apple Blossom Lane after it was learned the stolen car featured a GPS tracking device.
“We knew there was a tracker inside the car and it was much safer,” Columbia Police Chief Jerry Paul said.
An Illinois State Police Emergency Radio Network broadcast was issued for neighboring police agencies to be on the lookout for the stolen car, which the tracker detected driving into St. Clair County, Cahokia, East St. Louis, Fairmont City , Washington Park and eventually onto I-255 south.
At 12:48 p.m., stop sticks were deployed on I-255 near milepost 7, which the car attempted to avoid before crashing into the rear of a red J&J Septic and Sewer Cleaning truck in a construction zone where the interstate is closed off for J.B. Bridge repairs.
The suspect, Daniel L. Murphy, 32, of Fenton, Mo., then ran from the scene onto a nearby frontage road but was apprehended by police about 100 yards away from crash site. Murphy was transported to Touchette Regional Hospital in Centreville under police watch for treatment of minor injuries.
Murphy was charged on Friday with possession of a converted (stolen) vehicle and aggravated fleeing/eluding police, both felonies, along with several traffic violations.
The Columbia Fire Department responded to the crash scene to spray sewage off the interstate.
This was the second vehicle reported stolen in Columbia on Thursday. Police said a white 1999 Ford pickup hauling a gray 2015 Sure-Trac box trailer was stolen sometime between 4 and 6:15 a.m. from the 500 block of Fairfax Drive.
The stolen truck has Illinois plates 309337D and the trailer has Illinois plate 1295 LN. Anyone with information on this case is asked to call Columbia police at 618-281-5151.