SAMSON, Ala. (WDHN) — A Geneva County man is behind bars after stealing a patrol car and leading authorities on two separate high-speed chases.
Tire marks near the intersection of Columbus-Holley and State Highway 153 show where Zachary Owens’ vehicle was forced into a ditch by Samson police following a short chase.
An 11-year-old girl was one of three passengers in the vehicle who escaped unharmed. While Owens was in the back seat of the patrol car, he managed to get his handcuffs from behind his back to the front. He then squirmed into the driver’s seat and took off again.
The 26-year-old eventually lost control and would wreck again near the Geneva/Holmes County line.
A canine tracking team located the suspect in a heavily wooded area where he was arrested again. Chief Jimmy Hill said the 11-year-old wasn’t hurt physically but was traumatized by the experience.
“She was unharmed, but she was really — she was scared, very scared,” Hill said. “She just didn’t know what to do. You know, she got thrown out of the car, you know, on the side of the highway. She said she actually crawled up in a ditch and just rolled up in a ball.”
Hill said Owens faces several charges: theft of property, DUI, resisting arrest and escaping authorities. Owens is also a fugitive from justice on unrelated charges and is being held at the Geneva County Jail.
Clarification: The car in question belonged to an officer, not the chief.