High Speed Chase Of Shoplifting Suspect Ends With Dramatic Crash

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On Nov, 10. Kristin McIntosh was driving to pick up her son at work. Five days later she awoke in Bronson Methodist Hospital in Kalamazoo. She had suffered a traumatic brain injury with bleeding, a concussion, two breaks in her pelvis, 12 broken ribs, two collapsed lungs, a broken sternum, a blood clot, and injuries to one eye. She still can’t smile on the left side of her face. “I was told I was in a car accident,” she told Assistant Calhoun County Prosecutor Amber Straub. McIntosh, 45, was the first witness in the preliminary examination in Calhoun County District Court in the case against Rayjahn Heltzel, 19, of Kalamazoo, charged with seven counts including fleeing from police and shoplifting after allegedly stealing liquor and then fleeing from officers until his van was involved in a multiple-vehicle crash at M-66 and Beckley Road near Lakeview Square Mall on Nov. 10.

Deputies from the Calhoun County Sheriff Department said they were attempting to arrest Heltzel after security officers at Meijer Inc. at 6405 B Drive North in the Harper Village shopping plaza said he was leaving the store without paying for liquor. When detectives from the sheriff department and the Emmett Township Department of Public Safety attempted to stop Heltzel and another man, they said he attempted to hit them with his van and sped out of the parking lot and toward the intersection. The white minivan collided first with a northbound car and then struck a van driven southbound by McIntosh, which was slammed into a fourth vehicle. Six others were hurt but McIntosh had the most serious injuries.Police have alleged Heltzel ran from the accident scene and dropped a handgun near the intersection before he was caught by officers near the former Don Pablos restaurant.

McIntosh, who entered the courtroom using a walker, spoke to Straub, and during cross examination to defense attorney Susan Mladenoff, while District Judge Frank Line listened She told the court she had debated what route she would take to the Goodwill store on B Drive North where her son works and decided to travel on M-66 from her home in Pennfield. McIntosh said she was about to drive her mini-van through the intersection to make the turn and drive to the Goodwill store east side of the intersection. “That is all I remember. Five days later I remember waking up in Bronson.” All that she knows afterward was told to her by others. Michelle McGillis was in a vehicle behind McIntosh and testified just as the light turned green “out of nowhere the dark colored mini-van and the SUV disappeared. It got hit by the white minivan.” McGillis said she recalled hearing sirens and seeing police lights to the left of her southbound car just before the crash.

“The dark mini-van was in front and I moved forward a little bit and I saw the white van and the car in front was hit by the white van and that hit the SUV. It was one bad accident.” McGillis said she saw a man running from the white mini-van after the crash toward the Don Pablos building. Police said several officers from three departments were working on on an undercover credit card fraud investigation when they said Heltzel stole the liquor. Officers in unmarked cars and fully marked police vehicles were in the parking lot. Heltzel faces charges of fleeing from a police officer, use of a firearm in the commission of a felony, failure to stop at the scene of a serious personal injury accident, assault with a dangerous weapon, two counts of assaulting a police officer and third-degree retail fraud. Testimony was adjourned Monday and is scheduled to resume Jan. 18.

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