DANVILLE, Ill. (WCIA) — Law enforcement in Danville say a 34-year-old Lafayette, Ind. man crashed his car Friday after leading officers on a high-speed chase across the Indiana state line.
A press release from Criminal Investigations Cmdr. Josh Webb says Indiana State Police were searching for Michael A. Scuteri, 34, who had an active warrant for arson of a Warren County home.
Troopers in Indiana say they found Scuteri in his car and began a traffic stop. The release says police then chased him from Warren County into Fountain County, and then crossed the state line and entered the City of Danville.
Webb says a Danville Police officer used stop sticks to flatten the tires on Scuteri’s car. Police say the car keep going for a short distance, side-swiped another vehicle, and hit a crossing guard pole.
At that point, the release says, the car caught fire. Police say the vehicle kept moving until it hit a concrete retaining wall at the Christway Church at Main and Buchanan streets. Webb says the fire in the car then intensified.
He says city firefighters got to the scene and quickly put out the fire. Webb says police then pulled Scuteri from the car, adding he was the only person inside.
Scuteri was then taken to an area hospital. Webb says he was treated for burns and other injuries, and he is expected to survive.
“Due to the nature of the fire being unknown and the arson charges Scuteri was facing from the incident in Indiana, the decision was made to consult with the University of Illinois Police Bomb Squad and the Illinois State Fire Marshal’s Office,” says Webb.
The police commander says a suspicious briefcase was found inside the car, and the bomb squad then performed a controlled explosion on it. They then looked at what was inside.
“During the examination it was learned that the briefcase contained a laptop and other electronics but no explosive material was found,” Webb says. “A further examination of the suspect’s vehicle was also conducted and no explosive material was located inside the vehicle.”
Investigators say they believe the fire may have been started by the car’s fuel lines being burst open when it hit the crossing guard pole.
“Earlier online and social media reports that the vehicle exploded from a bomb have proven to be inaccurate and misleading,” says Webb.
Police say a warrant for Scuteri was issued out of Warren County for charges of arson and resisting arrest. Webb adds further charges of aggravated fleeing and eluding police and traffic violations are pending in Vermilion County.
Danville Police says Scuteri will be arrested and taken back to Indiana once he is released from the hospital.
The release says no one else was hurt during the incident.
Danville Police say they’re continuing to investigate. No further information was immediately available Monday morning.
Anyone who has information regarding this incident is asked to call Danville Police at 217-431-2250 or Vermilion County Crime Stoppers at 217-446-TIPS