Uintah County man charged after fiery high-speed police chase
VERNAL — A Uintah County man is facing multiple felony charges following a high-speed police chase that injured two officers, destroyed two patrol vehicles and left the suspect's truck in flames.
Rory Albert Hardinger of Ballard, was charged Thursday in 8th District Court with four counts of aggravated assault, a third-degree felony; one count of failure to stop or respond to the command of a police officer, a third-degree felony; and DUI, a class B misdemeanor.
Hardinger, 37, was being sought on several warrants when police were notified June 27 that he was violating a protective order, according to a Roosevelt police report.
Officers drove to a home near 2100 East and 1000 North in Roosevelt and found Hardinger exiting the home with a tire iron in his hand, the report states.
Roosevelt police detective Peter Butcher pointed his handgun at Hardinger and ordered him to drop the tool. "But he jumped into his vehicle," Butcher said. "We didn't expect that. We expected to show up and just be able to affect an arrest."
That expectation came from officers' past encounters with Hardinger.
"We didn't have any indicators that he would be violent," the detective said.
But Hardinger attempted to run Butcher down while he was outside his patrol car, the police report states. He also rammed two police vehicles, disabling both of them and injuring the officers inside, Butcher said.
"The side-curtain airbags deployed in one officer's vehicle, breaking the windows, so he suffered some cuts from the glass," he said. "The other officer had a shoulder injury."
The pursuit came to an end after about 20 miles, when Hardinger lost control of the truck he was driving and crashed into a farmer's field. The truck landed on its roof and burst into flames.
Hardinger escaped the wreckage and began to flee on foot. As officers closed in, he tried to convince them that he was armed, Butcher said.
"He was telling us to shoot him," the detective said. "Through a little bit of patience and good police work, we were able to take him into custody."
Butcher deployed his Taser, and although it proved ineffective, Hardinger complied with the officer's orders was arrested. He told officers after the incident that he was under the influence of methamphetamine and prescription drugs, the police report states.
Hardinger has been held in the Uintah County Jail on the warrants since his arrest. A date for his first court appearance on the new charges has not been set.
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