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OSHP: Reckless driver pursuit leads to stand-off


LEBANON, OHIO — Pursuit of a reckless driver Wednesday on Interstate 71 in Warren County resulted in a nearly 90-minute standoff before the suspect was taken into custody, according to the Lebanon Post of the Ohio State Highway Patrol (OSHP).

At around 12:30 p.m. Wednesday, troopers from the Lebanon Post of the OSHP responded to I-71 to locate a Hyundai SUV reportedly driving recklessly northbound near State Route 741.

Troopers located the Hyundai and initiated a traffic stop. The vehicle failed to stop and a pursuit ensued, according to OSHP. Stop sticks were deployed, and the Hyundai came to a stop multiple times in the roadway, with troopers ordering the suspect out of the vehicle. The suspect allegedly failed to comply and drove away each time.

The Hyundai ultimately came to a stop in the roadway near the rest areas north of State Route 123 on I-71, where a standoff situation began, according to OSHP. The suspect was taken into custody following negotiations lasting approximately one-and-a-half hours.

The suspect reportedly refused to identify himself, but was determined to be Gerale Sanchez Witcher, 32, Cincinnati. Witcher is being medically cleared at a local hospital before being incarcerated at the Warren County Jail. He is being charged with failure to comply with the order or signal of a police officer, a felony, and operating a vehicle impaired, a misdemeanor. Additional charges may be filed.

The incident remains under investigation by the Ohio State Highway Patrol. Troopers were assisted at the scene by the Warren County Sheriff’s Office, the Warren County Tactical Response Unit and the Ohio Department of Transportation.