By Judy Reed
What started out as a stolen vehicle from a gas station in Cedar Springs ended in a high-speed chase and arrest 1,500 miles away.
According to Cedar Springs Police Chief Roger Parent, a 2002 Pontiac Grand Prix was stolen from the Admiral Gas Station at 194 S. Main in Cedar Springs, about 8:45 p.m. January 2. The 43-year-old female driver left it running while she went inside to pay for gas. Surveillance footage shows a short, stocky person wearing a hooded sweatshirt and baggy clothing get into the car and drive away. Police say it appeared to be a smaller size female.
Two days later, on January 4, the Stillwater County Sheriff’s Department in Montana arrested Nathaniel James Purdy, 28, of Cedar Springs, after a high-speed chase topping 100 mph. According to the Stillwater County Sheriff’s Office, a deputy located the stolen vehicle about 10:15 a.m., after it was involved in a gas theft in Billings, Montana. The deputy attempted to stop the vehicle in the Park City area of I-90, but the driver fled, leading the deputy and two highway patrol troopers on the high-speed chase. As they neared Columbus, Montana, Sheriff’s deputies and the Columbus Police Department put down spike strips, but Purdy still refused to stop, and exited into the town of Columbus.
According to Marlo Pronovost, reporter for the Stillwater County News, by the time he reached the intersection of Pike Avenue and North Fourth Street, two Montana Highway patrol troopers and one Columbus Police officer were involved in the chase. Purdy’s damaged tires gave out when he turned down an alley and he crashed into a building. He then fled on foot, running behind a series of businesses with police close behind, and then back toward the building he crashed into. Police ordered him to the ground at gunpoint about 50 feet away from where he had crashed. He was apprehended about 10:25 a.m.
Purdy was arraigned Tuesday and pleaded not guilty to charges of felony criminal endangerment, felony assault on a peace officer, misdemeanor fleeing or eluding a police officer, and misdemeanor possession of drug paraphernalia. The public defender requested a $10,000 bail and said that Purdy had a friend in Billings he could stay with until the matter is resolved. However, District Judge Blair Jones set the bail at $75,000, noting that Purdy was from out-of-state and also the seriousness of the offenses.
According to the Michigan Department of Corrections, Purdy was just released from prison on November 19, 2011. He pled guilty in 2007 on a charge of assault with a dangerous weapon (felonious assault), and received three years probation, which was revoked in June 2008 for a violation. He then served three years in prison.
The Cedar Springs Police Department is still looking for the person who originally stole the vehicle from the gas station. If anyone has information on this person, they should contact the Cedar Springs Police Department at (616) 696-1311.