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February 17, 2013

Iowa police: Child in fatal crash reported missing

DES MOINES, Iowa — A 5-year-old boy injured in a crash following a high-speed chase had been reported missing in November by his mother, Iowa authorities said.

The driver of the car, Jeremiah Johnson, 33, led officers on a chase early Friday morning that exceeded speeds of 110 mph, police said. Johnson, who authorities say had been involved in a lengthy custody battled over the boy, was pronounced dead at the scene.   

The boy was found crying behind the driver’s seat under a pile of clothes and was taken to a hospital with serious injuries, the newspaper reported. Police have not released the boy’s name.

The chase began in Clive when an officer tried to pull over Johnson’s car and it sped away. The Iowa State Patrol eventually took over and followed the car into Indianola, where the car slammed into a parked, unoccupied police cruiser at an estimated 130 mph, The Des Moines Register (http://dmreg.co/ZiuLSQ) reported.  

Officers were unaware there was a child in the car during the chase, authorities said.

“If they would have found out a child was in there, they probably would have called (the chase) off,” Iowa State Patrol spokesman Sgt. Scott Bright said. “Those pursuits become very dangerous.”

Authorities said the boy’s mother, who had been awarded custody in July, reported the 5-year-old missing and endangered to Des Moines police in November.

Last month, police in Buford, Ga., stopped Johnson on suspicion of running a red light. Police soon learned Johnson and the boy, who was in the car, had been reported missing.

Police say Johnson sped away when an officer asked him to step out of the car. At the time, police did not engage in a high-speed chase because the boy was in the car, but a warrant was issued for Johnson’s arrest.

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