Joshua D. Swartwout, 23, is the man responsible for what ABC News referred to as a “Houdini-like” escape, after he managed to steal a patrol car and lead officers on a 100-mph chase while handcuffed behind his back.
Swartwout, who was arrested on suspicion of auto theft following an earlier pursuit according to a Highway patrol statement, was being transferred to a detention facility in the front seat of a patrol car beside an officer just before he managed to steal the car. That particular patrol car was not equipped with a back seat cage or partition.
An opportunity for escape arose when the trooper pulled over to assist those in a motorcycle collision on Highway 25 in northwest Kansas. Trooper Tod Hileman, a spokesman for the Kansas Highway Patrol explained, “We don’t normally do that, but this trooper saw this accident occur right in front of him and it was in a rural area. Being trained as a highway patrol trooper, it’s ingrained that you will help.”
While the trooper was outside of the vehicle assisting the crash victim, Swartwout, with the conviction of a criminal whose only thought is to escape, managed to get himself into the driver’s seat and drive off.
The trooper immediately radioed for assistance, and officers rushing to the scene spotted the stolen patrol car and were right on Swartwout’s tail.
Somehow, Swartwout was able to drive at speeds upwards of 100 mph down the narrow two-lane highway surrounded by ditches on both sides while his hands were tied behind his back – a pretty marvellous feat.
Hileman, who did not ask Swartwout how he was driving, said “As a high-speed pursuit driving instructor for 20 years, I can only assume he was using his knees.”
The chase eventually ended when the patrol car ran out of gas roughly 30 miles from where it began. Swartwout got out of the car and attempted to ran away but was quickly apprehended. Luckily, no one was hurt during the chase.
Swartwout was later booked into the Sherman County Jail without incident.