Chase Closes Hwy.

Mile-long rap sheet: 80-mile pursuit

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A Winslow man with a mile-long rap sheet led police on roughly an 80-mile chase Friday that ultimately ended in his capture after officers put down not one, but four spike strips.

David Acosta, 36, faces a slew of charges after authorities say he fled the Winslow area in a stolen vehicle and drove erratically south on Highway 87 before officers stopped him just north of Payson.

The Payson Police Department briefly blocked the highway leading out of town as the chase roared toward Payson on the winding highway.

Payson police planned to turn all the southbound lights green so Acosta and perusing officers could get through town safely, but didn’t have to after spike strips stopped Acosta at milepost 262.

Earlier Friday, the Winslow Police Department put out a call that Acosta was driving a stolen older model Toyota Corolla.

Acosta had reportedly nearly run down the vehicle’s owner while taking the car.

It is unclear how Acosta knew the man and calls to the Winslow Police Department were not returned Monday.

Just outside Winslow, a Department of Public Safety officer and sergeant picked up the pursuit and followed Acosta through the woods and down the Mogollon Rim past Pine-Strawberry.

DPS officers in Payson joined the pursuit, including Sgt. Vernon Havens, who happened to be in town for a DPS training session.

Although no longer his jurisdiction, Havens and other officers quickly responded, said local DPS Sgt. Erik Axlund.

The Gila County Sheriff’s Office and Payson Police Department also responded.

Officers put down four spike strips north of town, but Acosta avoided two sets of strips.

Acosta hit the third strip and came to a stop.

He was taken into custody without incident, Axlund said.

Officers found no weapons in the vehicle. No other vehicles or motorists were injured in the pursuit.

Acosta has been charged with 11 counts of endangerment as well as felony flight, unlawful use of transportation and five warrants out of the Winslow Justice Court, including those for aggravated assault, theft, robbery, unlawful flight and unlawful means of transportation.

Acosta’s criminal history includes convictions for a 1996 armed robbery, 2003 driving without a license and insurance, 2005 possession of dangerous drugs and attempted transportation of dangerous drugs, 2007 driving with a suspended license and 2008 misconduct involving weapons, according to online court records.

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