By Regina Zilbermints
Des Moines, Iowa (Des Moines Register) - The man who died after allegedly leading police on a high-speed chase through several Central Iowa counties and smashing into an empty patrol car was the father of the five-year-old who survived the crash, police said Friday afternoon.
Police identified the suspect who died as Jeremiah Eldon Johnson, 33, of Des Moines.
Warrants for Johnson's arrested in Georgia were issued on Jan. 11 on allegedly abducting his five-year-old son Johnnathon Eldon Johnson and fleeing from police, according to the Gwinnett County, Ga., Police Department.
Local police have not confirmed the identity of the child.
Des Moines Police designated the child involved in the accident as missing/endangered back in December.
According to Clive police, an officer saw the vehicle around 2:45 a.m. on the off-ramp from Interstate Highway 80 eastbound to Hickman Road. A license plate cover partially obscured the plate and as the officer tried to run the plate the car abruptly pulled into a truck stop.
The officer ran several possible combinations but wasn't able to get the right license plate numbers and followed the car as it left the parking lot and pulled onto Hickman Road and back onto Interstate Highway 80 westbound, authorities said.
Around 2:50 a.m. the officer activated his lights and attempted to stop the 2003 Volkswagen Passat, police said. He reportedly could not see how many passengers were in the car.
Johnson allegedly accelerated away from the officer. The patrol car reached speeds of 110 miles per hour but still couldn't keep up with the suspect's vehicle. Other police agencies joined the pursuit.
Police set up stop sticks and a roadblock in Indianola at Iowa Highway 92 and 15th Street, authorities said, and at about 3:15 the suspect's vehicle hit stop sticks and slammed into an empty police car, police said. Footage from a dashboard camera of a nearby patrol car shows an officer stepping away from the roadblock seconds before the suspect's vehicle smashed into the car, releasing a flash of sparks and smoke.
The suspect's vehicle was traveling at an estimated 130 mph when it hit the patrol car, said Indianola Detective Sgt. Brian Sher. The child was found on the floor, behind the driver's seat under a pile of clothes. It's unclear if the child was strapped in or how he or she survived the collision, Sher said.
"Miraculous is the word I would use to describe it," he said.
Johnson was pronounced dead at the scene. The five-year-old was seriously injured, according to the Iowa State Patrol, and transported to Blank Children's hospital.
Johnson was wanted in Gwinnett County, Ga., on suspicion fleeing attempting to elude law enforcement, two counts of obstruction of justice, reckless driving, cruelty to a child, and other traffic violations.
The Des Moines Register