WILMINGTON — Wilmington’s police chief is expressing appreciation for the cooperation of local residents and motorists, as well as area law enforcement agencies, in the wake of a Wednesday afternoon incident that could have easily turned tragic.
At just after 3 p.m. Wilmington police received a report that the Ohio State Highway Patrol and Sabina police were in pursuit of a vehicle driving toward the city from Sabina at speeds over 120 mph.
“We had some units on the east side of town so we tried to start to set up stop sticks,” said WPD Chief Ron Cravens. “But OSP said they had lost visual of the vehicle and had terminated their portion of the pursuit, because they were entering a densely populated area.
“It’s always safer to live to fight another day and keep everybody as safe as possible,” he added.
Cravens said the black Mercedes-Benz sedan had been reported stolen from a car lot in Dayton.
Cravens said he immediately contacted Wilmington City Schools Superintendent Mindy McCarty-Stewart “to let her know to hold East End because a pursuit was coming into town and not to have anybody outside.”
The children who attend East End School are preschoolers. “So they were safe,” said Cravens.
“As we got to Rombach Avenue, we got information that the vehicle was at BW3. We found the vehicle, tried to initiate a stop in the parking lot and it took off again, striking car #135 [a police cruiser] in its attempt to evade arrest.” He said the stolen car also struck some other vehicles parked at BW3.
The car took a right onto Rombach Avenue and reached speeds up to 70 miles per hour on the busy street, ignoring traffic signals and almost striking other vehicles, he said.
“Somewhere around Lowe’s Drive we came upon heavy traffic and terminated the stop,” he continued. “He made a left onto South Street, and just absolutely floored it — striking a pickup truck at Main and South — and fled the scene.
“At some point a state trooper got behind the vehicle and conducted a high-risk traffic stop on South Street near Midway [Drive]. Some of the occupants of the car ran.”
They were taken into custody shortly thereafter, including two apprehended near the end of Midway and one near a South Street home across from Showen Motors. Wilmington Fire & EMS also responded to the scene.
After police contacted Clinton County Prosecutor Andrew McCoy and detailed the incident, the driver — Isaiah De’Leon Youngblood, 22, of Dayton — was charged with fleeing and eluding, a felony 3.
Because the four juvenile passengers — one male and three females — were in his custody and care, he’s also possibly facing four felony child endangerment charges — one for each one of the juveniles.
Cravens said Youngblood was “very disrespectful, no remorse, he refused to submit to policies … just very gross, abusive language.”
Cravens said Youngblood was transported to the Clinton County Sheriff’s Office, but “he was complaining that his right side was numb, so he was taken to the hospital for treatment.”
Youngblood was booked into the Clinton County Jail later that night.
The juveniles were taken into custody.
“The state patrol said, and the juveniles also told us, that ever since this [the chase] started, they were saying to the driver, ‘Let us out! Let us out!’ So we’re looking at kidnapping charges and everything we can to ensure this guy doesn’t get out of jail soon to harm anybody else.”
As of Wednesday evening, the juveniles were awaiting the arrival of parents; one of the juveniles was currently listed as an endangered runaway, so the appropriate agency was going to pick him up.
Chief Cravens said the vehicle was also reportedly in other pursuits throughout the day.
According to the Montgomery County Clerk of Courts website, Youngblood has previous convictions — in 2018 and 2016, for grand theft auto and receiving stolen property — receiving 5 years probation for the offenses.
“This person didn’t have the right to put the safety of everyone in Wilmington at risk because he didn’t want to follow the law,” said Cravens. “We’re very lucky nobody was seriously hurt; it’s a heavily populated area. He showed no remorse for anything he’d done.”
He added that the suspect “doesn’t need to see the light of day until, I don’t know, 2060. He shows no remorse. He presents a clear and present danger to society.”
“I’m very thankful for the cooperation between the state patrol and the sheriff’s office,” Cravens told the News Journal. “I’m thankful for the professionalism of the police department, sheriff’s department, state troopers … We worked seamlessly together. We didn’t have to ask each other, ‘Hey, can you do this?’; it was, ‘Hey, what do you need?’ That benefits the city and the citizens of the county.
“He came through downtown. Do you know how many people were out on foot and the danger he presented to them?” said Cravens. “He could have driven into a shop, he could have T-boned that pickup truck instead of clipping it.
“I appreciate all the citizens who were patient as we tied up private property and traffic was a mess, and all those people downtown and the south side of town; I thank them for their patience. I felt like when I was running lights and sirens everybody got out of the way.
“I’m just appreciative.”