OKEECHOBEE — A local man who reportedly refused to stop for a deputy was eventually arrested on a number of charges including driving under the influence.
According to Deputy DeMarcus Dixon, of the Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Office (OCSO), the man also led him on a slow-speed chase Sunday, Oct. 4, in the southeastern portion of Okeechobee County.
Juan Pablo Cartagena Ruiz, 52, S.R. 70 West, was arrested on a felony charge of fleeing with wanton disregard for the safety of persons or
property. Besides the DUI charge he was charged with driving while license suspended and resisting a law enforcement officer without violence, which are all misdemeanors.
Ruiz is being held in the Okeechobee County Jail on a total bond of $7,750.
Deputy Dixon’s arrest report indicated the sheriff’s office had received a number of reports about a reckless driver on U.S. 441 S.E. that was in a blue Chevrolet Impala.
The deputy apparently found that vehicle around 7:35 p.m. in the 8600 block of U.S. 441 S.E.
“I observed the blue Chevy Impala cross the center line multiple times on 441 S.E. in the 8600 block,” stated Deputy Dixon. “I observed several vehicles in the westbound lane taking evasive action by pulling over to the shoulder of the roadway to avoid colliding head-on with the blue Impala.”
At this time, continued the deputy, he was following the Chevy at a speed of 35 mph.
And even though the deputy had activated both his emergency lights and siren, the driver of the Impala refused to stop.
That driver was later identified as Ruiz.
Deputy Dixon followed Ruiz as he ran a stop sign at the intersection of S.E. 86th Blvd. and S.R. 710. The man turned east onto S.R. 710 and traffic in both the eastbound and westbound lanes reportedly had to take evasive actions to keep from hitting the car driven by Ruiz.
Ruiz, continued the report, once stopped briefly in the center of the busy two-lane highway. But when the deputy got out of his vehicle, Ruiz allegedly drove away.
The deputy returned to his patrol unit and continued to pursue Ruiz with speeds reaching 50 mph. At this point, Deputy Dixon was instructed by his supervisor to suspend the pursuit and to follow at a safe distance.
Deputy Dixon turned off his lights and siren but continued to follow Ruiz to S.E. 126th Blvd., where the man reportedly drove southbound to U.S. 441 S.E.
With Ruiz now driving at a speed of 25 mph, Deputy Dixon was told to once again activate his lights and siren and try to stop the blue Impala.
Finally, the man pulled over onto the westbound shoulder of the two-lane highway.
When Deputy Dixon, along with three other deputies, took Ruiz out of his car the man “… reeked of alcohol,” stated Deputy Dixon.
Besides the criminal charges, Deputy Dixon also issued Ruiz traffic citations for failing to stop at a stop sign and failure to maintain a single lane.
Eric Kopp is a staff writer for the Okeechobee News