Lancaster man arraigned on charges from high-speed chase

By Sarah Hawley

POMEROY — A Lancaster man accused of leading law enforcement in multiple counties on a high-speed chase earlier this year was arraigned in Meigs County Common Pleas Court on Thursday morning.

Jason Austin, 34, currently incarcerated in the Chillicothe Correctional Institution, appeared before Judge I. Carson Crow on the charges of receiving stolen property, a fourth-degree felony; failure to comply with the signal of a police officer, a third-degree felony; and inducing panic, a first-degree misdemeanor.

Austin was indicted in April on the charges following the March 15 incident which began in Wood County, West Virginia.

Crow entered a plea of innocent to the charges on behalf of Austin and appointed Attorney Tommy Saunders to represent Austin.

He is currently serving six months in prison on a parole violation, but told the court he will likely receive additional time on charges in Fairfield County.

The charge of receiving stolen property is for the Jeep Compass which Austin allegedly took from the Parkersburg area. According to previous Sentinel reports, the vehicle allegedly driven by Austin was then chased into Ohio, with numerous law enforcement agencies taking part.

As the vehicle traveled down Route 7, it crossed into Meigs County where the Meigs County Sheriff’s Office joined the efforts to stop the vehicle. The vehicle continued down Route 7, going onto Route 33 toward Athens before turning around at Rainbow Lake Road. The vehicle then turned off Route 33 onto Route 681 going back toward Tuppers Plains.

Law enforcement tried to use spike strips at multiple locations but were unsuccessful with the suspect reportedly driving through yards in the area to avoid the strips. The vehicle again got on Route 7 in Tuppers Plains heading toward Chester. Deputies were stationed just below Eastern Local Schools, which Sheriff Keith Wood said led the suspect to turn into the parking lot at the school, going around back toward the weight room. The suspect reportedly crashed through the fence by the sewer facility near the school’s football field. He then jumped out of the vehicle and laid on the ground where he was taken into custody, according to law enforcement.

Pretrial hearings in the case are scheduled for Aug. 14 and Sept. 18, with a trial date of Oct. 12.

As Austin is incarcerated in the state prison system, Assistant Prosecutor Jeff Adkins asked for a recognizance bond which was granted by the court.

By Sarah Hawley