ASHLAND – A speeding motorcyclist led law enforcement on a chase that started on wheels in Ashland and ended on foot in Greenwood.
Travis D. Stierlen has been charged in Saunders County District Court with felony flight to avoid arrest, obstruction of a peace officer and possession of a firearm by a prohibited person following the Aug. 22 incident.
An affidavit of probable cause filed with the court details the incident. Ashland Police Officer Travis Herbolsheimer was sitting in his patrol car performing stationary radar control along Highway 6 at approximately 2 a.m. when he heard a motorcycle coming towards his vehicle. As the motorcycle approached, Herbolsheimer heard the engine accelerate and noticed the motorcycle gain speed.
“I estimated the motorcycle to be traveling well over the speed limit,” Herbolsheimer wrote in the affidavit.
Herbolsheimer’s radar indicated the motorcycle was traveling 96 miles per hour in a 45 mph zone. He turned on his lights and sirens as the motorcycle passed and then followed the vehicle for about one-half of a mile.
As Herbolsheimer attempted to get the motorcyclist to pull over, he observed the driver accelerate. He communicated with Saunders County dispatch that he was in an active pursuit at the speed of 120 miles per hour. The posted speed on Highway 6 was still 45 mph.
Herbolsheimer notified law enforcement in Saunders, Cass and Lancaster counties of the situation and asked dispatch to contact Ashland Police Chief Joe Baudler of the situation.
The Ashland police officer was able to stay within a mile to a mile and one-half of the motorcycle at all times, even though the suspect was traveling at over 140 miles per hour, Herbolsheimer said. He noted that he passed only one vehicle driving in the opposite direction during the pursuit.
The pursuit continued into Greenwood. The motorcyclist blasted into the village at 100 mph, over twice the posted speed limit of 45 mph. He slowed to 60 mph in Greenwood as he began driving on the shoulder, Herbolsheimer reported.
Just outside of Greenwood, the suspect sped back up to 100 mph. Herbolsheimer said he got within one car length of the motorcycle at this time. However, the driver attempted to accelerate again. Herbolsheimer observed pieces of the motorcycle’s rear tire hitting the windshield of his patrol car.
As he got close to the driver, Herbolsheimer observed that the suspect was wearing black shorts, a black jacket, and a black helmet and had a black backpack. The motorcycle began smoking and seemed to be having motor trouble, Herbolsheimer observed.
Two miles outside of Greenwood and just over the Lancaster County border, Herbolsheimer noticed that the motorcycle’s drive chain had come off the back wheel and was dragging on the ground. The driver tried to slow the motorcycle and pulled it to the edge of the roadway.
The suspect jumped off the motorcycle and ran into the ditch, Herbolsheimer said. The police officer stopped his patrol car and drew his weapon, ordering the driver to stop. The suspect continued running into tall grass and up towards the railroad tracks on the other side of the ditch.
Despite orders from Herbolsheimer to stop running and to put his hands in the air, the suspect continued to run. He reached the railroad tracks knoll, stopped and looked at the officer, the report states.
Herbolsheimer continued to order the suspect to put his hands in the air, but the suspect refused. Herbolsheimer said at one point the suspect said he was going to give up and began walking towards the officer. Herbolsheimer ordered the suspect to stop and place his hands on his head. He refused and continued to approach the officer.
Once he came out of the tall grass, the suspect took off his backpack and dropped it on the ground. Herbolsheimer continued to order the suspect to get on the ground, but the man refused and started to walk towards the damaged motorcycle.
Herbolsheimer approached the suspect and placed him on the ground. The suspect resisted, but the officer was able to place him in handcuffs. A search of the suspect located two lighters and a small crowbar.
As Herbolsheimer was reporting the arrest to dispatch, a Cass County deputy arrived. They searched the area and the suspect’s backpack. They found less than one ounce of marijuana, live ammunition, a flashlight, tools, clothing and other miscellaneous items.
The officers searched the area for a weapon and after about 10 minutes they located a large caliber 45 Llama handgun, matching the ammunition found in the backpack.
Dispatch notified Herbolsheimer that the suspect, Stierlen, was a convicted felon with an active warrant in Lancaster County. It was later discovered that he also had a suspended/revoked driver’s license and the motorcycle was not registered or insured.
Herbolsheimer transported Stierlen to Saunders County Jail in Wahoo. Police originally charged Stierlen with willful reckless driving, speeding, possession of less than an ounce of marijuana, possession of burglary tools, resisting arrest, driving under suspension, no registration, no proof of insurance and no motorcycle license.
Stierlen is scheduled for a pretrial hearing on Nov. 4 in District Court and a jury trial is set for Dec. 18.