11/20/2006

Distraught man leads La. officers on chase, crashes into squad

By Kimberly Vetter, Staff Writer
The Advocate 
 
Baton Rouge, La.-

A 38-year-old man distraught over his divorce led officers on a 35-mile chase from Albany to Baton Rouge that ended in a wreck Friday, snarling traffic on Interstate 12, authorities said.

Mark Owens took off in his Chevrolet pickup about 10 a.m. after Albany Police Chief Russell Hutchison got a call from Owens' father, who said his son was threatening to hurt himself.

Hutchison contacted the Livingston Parish Coroner's Office and went to Owens' home to keep him from leaving.

But Owens did leave, Hutchison said, and didn't stop until hitting a Livingston Parish Sheriff's Office vehicle on I-12 and a deputy driving a marked pickup blocked him in near Millerville Road.

Even then, Owens kept accelerating into the pickup, said Clint Gray, the driver.

"He wouldn't let off the gas," Gray said, pointing to a large black spot on the pavement where Owens' tires were spinning.

Gray said he pointed his gun at Owens, who still wouldn't get out of his truck or take his foot off the accelerator. Gray said he then broke the driver's side window and sprayed Owens with Mace.

Owens didn't say anything to him during the incident.

"He had his cell phone to his head the whole time," Gray said.

Except for Owens, who suffered scratches from broken glass, no one was injured during the almost hourlong chase, which also involved law enforcement agencies from Walker, Denham Springs and Baton Rouge, Hutchison said.

Owens was taken to Ochsner Summit Hospital, where the Livingston Parish Coroner's Office was waiting to evaluate him, Hutchison said. Once released from medical care, Owens - who was unarmed - will face one count of failure to stop for an emergency vehicle, he said.

Hutchison, who has known Owens since he was a boy, said he has taken his divorce hard. Owens shot himself in the chest two months ago, the chief said.

"He was in the hospital for two or three weeks," he said. 
 
Color photo of Mark Owens, 38, laying on Interstate 12 near the Millerville Road exit about 11 a.m. Friday after leading police on a 35-mile chase that started in Albany. Law enforcement officials said Owens was distraught and threatened to hurt himself. (PP)
 
Copyright 2006 Capital City Press
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