WASHINGTON CITY — A man was found dead in a motorcycle crash Wednesday, four days after he was involved in a chase with police in southern Utah, according to officials.
The body of Joseph Gary Scelza, 43, was found by police near the Virgin River Gorge after Arizona Department of Public Safety officials received reports of a motorcycle crash.
Arizona law enforcement requested assistance from Washington City police to recover the remains, and during the investigation, officials said it was confirmed Scelza was the same man who was involved in a police chase March 2.
On that day, Washington City police had responded to a report of a white male, later identified as Scelza, attempting to steal items from Zion Harley Davidson Dealership, police said. Scelza left the dealership, located at 2345 N. Coral Canyon Blvd., on a purple Harley Davidson motorcycle, which police said he owned and did not steal.
Hurricane police later located Scelza at a Walmart in the city, and when officers attempted to make contact, he fled on the motorcycle and almost hit an officer.
Both Washington and Hurricane police officers pursued the motorcycle northbound on highway 91, where officials said speeds reached 100 mph in rainy conditions.
Officers ended the pursuit near the town of Leeds, but later that night, police began a second pursuit after a citizen reported spotting the motorcycle heading southbound on I-15.
Police followed Scelza as he exited Washington City and said he reached speeds of about 115 mph and weaved through traffic. He then began throwing items, including a backpack and the helmet he was wearing, at pursuing officers, police said.
Officers advised Arizona and Nevada law enforcement of the pursuit as they followed Scelza into the Virgin River Gorge.
Scelza began to taunt officers with hand gestures and rode a wheelie while officers continued to chase him, police said. Officers deemed the pursuit too dangerous to continue due to Scelza's reckless behavior and weather conditions.
Questions remained Friday, including when exactly the motorcycle accident occurred and Scelza's time of death.
Police were also unsure where Scelza had been living. Washington County Sheriff's Lt. David Crouse confirmed Scelza was originally from New York but did not have further details on his residence.3 comments on this story
The Washington County Sheriff’s Office administration reviewed video footage of the second pursuit and determined deputies had ended it just over half a mile prior to the site of Scelza's crash, Crouse said.
Crouse said deputies also received an inaccurate report of Scelza reaching the Nevada line, then turning back northbound after seeing Nevada authorities waiting, giving deputies no reason to suspect a traffic collision had occurred.
Inspection of dashcam footage, provided by Arizona Department of Public Safety investigators, determined the collision took place on a bend in the roadway, outside of the deputies' field of vision.
The Arizona Department of Public Safety is investigating the crash.