EATON COUNTY, Mich. (WZZM)- Officer Lisa Kirby of Eaton Rapids said, "Took off at a very high rate. Hit the gas pedal hard. I was playing catch up." This is just some of the new information about the high speed chase that led to the capture of a state prisoner who allegedly attacked a corrections officer.
Daniel Henry was in court Friday, accused of fleeing from police as he and four fellow inmates escaped from a prison work detail on December 8, 2009. Henry was one of five inmates who escaped the work detail. He is the one accused of driving the van when the men were caught near Eaton Rapids.
At Henry's preliminary hearing in Eaton County this morning we learned much more about the harrowing chase that led to their capture.
Daniel Henry was well guarded as he faced fleeing charges.
Eaton Rapids Police Officer Lisa Kirby was looking out for a missing corrections department van that December afternoon. She said in court, "I was specifically looking for blue vans." Kirby saw a blue van and started to follow it, when she saw another blue van with a state decal. She said, "I immediately turned on my overheads, did a u turn, got right behind the van."
Kirby says that's when the van took off, very quickly. She said, "I tried the entire time to catch up to them but I was always a good distance behind. So I was going speeds about 105 on M-99. I guess his speed was probably going 110, 115, 120 pulling away from me."
Henry's defense attorney Michael Hocking argued the speed limits were not properly posted because signs had been removed after a recent construction project. Hocking read state statute saying, "When appropriate signs giving notice of the speed limit are erected." Hocking says it could be the difference between up to 15 years in prison, or life.
Eventually, Officer Kirby caught up with the van in a dead end cul de sac. She saw the driver run into the woods. Then, Kirby says, "I immediately jumped out. I had my firearm pointed at the van, in case they were firing at me." The four other inmates were stuck in the van.
With the help of a police dog, officers found Daniel Henry a short time later in the woods. Another Eaton Rapids Police Officer, Mark Long told the court he said, "Let me see your hands. At that point, the hand of a white person come out of the weeds and we were able to grab the hand and place the individual in handcuffs."
Judge Harvey Hoffman ordered Daniel Henry to be held over for a circuit court hearing. Henry is being held on $1million bond.
Henry has not yet been charged in Montcalm County, where the alleged escape and assault on corrections officer Sam Olivo took place.
As for officer Sam Olivo, he is now out of the hospital. Doctors say he has improved enough that they could move him to a rehabilitation center in Mason. Olivo does not seem to have any permanent brain or nerve damage. He says no matter what, he is going back to work. Doctors say Olivo still has a lot of rehab before that is possible.
By Amy Fox