Confused Japanese Tourists Lead Utah Police on High-Speed Chase

Wednesday, 26 Feb 2014 11:49 AM

By Clyde Hughes

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A confused family of Japanese tourists led the Utah Highway Patrol on a chase down Interstate 15 Saturday morning in southern Utah, causing law enforcement to shut down the busy freeway.

The tourists, a man, a woman and their seven-year-old child, did not speak English. The driver told an interpreter after the chase that they did not know what to do when they saw the patrol vehicles behind them with sirens and flashing lights, according to the St. George News. So they kept driving, leading authorities on a chase down the freeway.

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"It was a really traumatizing situation," Utah Highway Patrol Lt. Brad Horne said. "Especially with a seven-year-old son, it was obviously a very traumatizing situation for them."

Authorities told the St. George News that highway patrol officers tried to pull the vehicle over about 1 a.m. Saturday after noticing the car weaving in and out of traffic erratically northbound on Interstate 15.

The driver drove at varying speeds, from 35 to 75 miles per hour, during the chase in which other patrol cars joined in the pursuit. Horne said that officers finally stopped the vehicle by puncturing the tires with a spike strip at Mile Post 9.5.

"Real frankly, we thought it was a DUI," Horne told the St. George News. "I'm commander of the DUI squad and that’s what we're looking for."

The Associated Press reported that what officers found were "terrified" tourists with a crying seven-year-old in back of the vehicle. 

"She would walk forward, backward, spin around — obviously she had no clue what we wanted her to do," Horne said of the driver.

After locating an interpreter, highway patrol found out that the tourists arrived in California on Friday and had rented a vehicle to drive from there to Bryce Canyon in southern Utah.

Authorities are not planning on filing charges against the tourists, and no one was hurt in the chase. Officers eventually took the family to a local motel after they were interviewed.

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