Speeder Cannot Outrun Aircraft

Police clock teenage motorcycle driver at speeds up to 121 mph


A southbound motorcycle driven by an 18-year-old Payson resident was clocked at 121.29 mph as he attempted to elude a DPS officer Sunday.

Curt Alan Sahlsten was intercepted just north of Rye Sunday, near Oxbow Estates, said Sgt. John Whetten with DPS.

"The rider u-turned at Rye, blowing past the stop sign and proceeded northbound on Highway 87 back toward Payson at speeds of well over 100 miles per hour," Whetten said.

The northbound DPS officer who first spotted Sahlsten was unable to turn around in time to pursue the suspect, so a fixed-wing DPS aircraft followed Sahlsten.

The DPS aircraft was able to follow Sahlsten until he turned into Oxbow Estates and attempted to hide under a tree, Whetten said.

"The aircraft directed ground units right to his location as he was sitting under a tree using his cell phone. He asked the arresting officer how he found him and the officer merely pointed up at the circling aircraft.

Sahlsten told the officer he ran from police because he didn't have a license or insurance, said Whetten.

The 18-year-old Payson resident was booked into the Gila County jail for reckless driving, Gila County Sheriff's deputy Swede Carlson said.

Carlson said DPS caught up to Sahlsten at about 4:20 Sunday afternoon. "He was here just enough time to fill out and process paperwork and he was gone," Carlson said.

"They (DPS) had him (Sahlsten) here in our jail by about 6 p.m. and he bonded out by 8 p.m.," said Carlson.

The arrest was all part of a speed enforcement effort by DPS from Friday, April 18 to Sunday, April 20 between 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The DPS effort resulted in 164 traffic violation citations, 136 speed violations, 22 speed warnings, 21 non-moving citations, one arrest for DUI, one felony drug arrest, six seat belt citations and three citations for child restraint violations.

The minimum speed cited was 80 miles per hour and the fastest was Sahlsten's 121.29 mph. The speed limit is 65 mph.

The DPS aircraft used to track Sahlsten is a Cessna 182 single engine model with DPS markings on the side and tail.

Using highway markers placed at one-quarter-mile intervals, DPS can calculate speeds using the aircraft.

It was that system, called "Sky Timer" that they used to track Sahlsten on Sunday.

Whetten said federal grant monies will "greatly" assist in speed enforcement along Highway 87.

The Payson airport received numerous calls from residents in Rye and Deer Creek over the weekend about the low-flying aircraft.

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