Dayton man who led police on 55-mile chase on I-75 sent to jail

A Dayton man who led law enforcement on a 55-mile chase on Interstate 75 and then hid to avoid capture is going to jail.

Richard Ware, 28, appeared Friday in the courtroom of Wood County Common Pleas Joel Kuhlman.

He was indicted in April for receiving stolen property, a fourth-degree felony, and tampering with evidence and failure to comply with an order or signal of a police officer, both third-degree felonies.

Ware pleaded guilty in October to the failure to comply and receiving stolen property charges.

Defense attorney Sara Roller said her client is working toward his GED and has no substance abuse issues.

“This doesn’t seem like something that would be within his character to do,” she said.

Ware bought the car near Detroit through a deal that was too good to be true. The vehicle was found to be stolen, she said.

She said Ware saw the patrol car’s lights and panicked.

Had he pulled over, they would be dealing with receiving stolen property, a fourth-degree felony, she said. But he didn’t and now Ware is facing a felony-three charge.

He wants to get his life on track and would do well on community control, Roller said.

On March 3 at approximately 8:50 p.m., a trooper with the Bowling Green post of the Ohio Highway Patrol observed a Dodge Challenger traveling southbound on I-75 in Portage Township. A registration check reported the car as being stolen out of Michigan.

A pursuit ensued at speeds in excess of 140 mph.

Troopers from the Findlay post began pursuit. The Dodge almost crashed when avoiding stop sticks and troopers terminated the pursuit.

Troopers at the Lima post then observed the vehicle and began pursuit at high rates of speed before the Dodge exited at Ohio 81 and troopers lost sight of the vehicle.

A security guard at a Reservoir Road business in Lima reported seeing a Dodge enter the parking lot and park. He spoke with the driver, who told him he was waiting for a ride. The guard said the driver then entered the weeds located at the Ohio State Nature Preserve.

A patrol helicopter responded and located the driver lying down in the weeds. A canine from the Lima Police Department assisted in Ware’s apprehension after he ignored repeated commands to surrender.

Wood County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Jim Hoppenjans said Ware’s version of what happened didn’t make sense.

“His conduct explains exactly that he knew it was stolen,” he said about the Dodge.

During the chase, Ware drove the car in excess of 140 mph, cut off other vehicles and passed 13 cars.

“That’s 13 lives he put at risk,” Hoppenjans said.

He ditched the car in Lima and hid in a field, which required law enforcement to call in a helicopter and canines to search, he said.

“All the while, the officers called to give up, he was surrounded, and he continued to refuse. So that moment of panic turned into moments of consideration of ‘I’m still not going to be caught because I know I have a stolen vehicle,’” Hoppenjans said.

He asked for prison.

“I didn’t know the car was stolen,” Ware said, and added he wouldn’t drive two hours to buy a stolen car.

He said he regrets the decisions.

“I’m just trying to get my life on track,” Ware said.

Kuhlman said he agreed with the prosecution.

“The whole thing doesn’t make sense,” he said.

It seems odd to show up to buy a vehicle with cash, find the car has a broken window and no title is handed over, Kuhlman said.

“It sounds sketchy,” he said.

He imposed a sentence of 120 days in jail followed by three years of community control.

Ware’s license will be suspended for three years.