DENVER (CBS4) – Wednesday morning’s wild police chase included many close calls, and it continued for so long that the Copter4 crew covering it from the air was worried about running out of fuel.
“We were at our lower end of what was comfortable,” said Copter4 pilot Matt Fess.
Fess told CBS4’s Alan Gionet in an interview that when the terrifying chase ended they had 40 minutes of fuel left, but Fess said “that included our 30 minute reserve.”
“So we were working with about 10 minutes,” Fess said. “If it did go on longer, we were going to have to land, and that would have been the end of us covering it.”
As well as providing live images for CBS4 viewers during the chase, the copter crew knew they were providing police with a helpful tool to track the driver from the sky.
“We kind of had a sigh of relief when (the driver) was not getting into another car,” camera operator Cody Crouch said, referring to the point at the end of the chase in Douglas County when the driver took off on foot. “We would have had to break off for fuel at that point.”
Gionet asked Fess and Crouch what the most challenging thing was about trying to fly over the chase.
“The biggest one with this was the mileage (the driver covered),” Fess said. “He pretty much took us through every controlled air space around the metro area. Just to put that in perspective, we were talking to five different controllers throughout the chase. Just coordinating with them and getting the clearances for the air space was the hardest part.”
In addition to covering a lot of miles, the driver got on and off highways in an erratic pattern and carjacked two different vehicles.
“We knew right then that this wasn’t going to be a normal chase,” Crouch said. “This guy being able to take back off again was really incredible. I had never seen anything like that. And he did it one more time and tried to do it a second time before the cops got him.
“We were trying to anticipate his movements, and it was really difficult to do.”
The chase included a Colorado State Trooper getting seriously injured when the driver clipped his body with one of the cars he stole.
“Our big thing was ‘Please don’t hurt anyone,’ ” Crouch said. “We wanted this to end without anyone else being hurt. Every time he would stop is we would hold our breaths to see what he was going to do. We didn’t know if he had a gun.”
Fess said he was also surprised by how quickly the driver was going at certain points.
“At times we were doing about 105 knots or so. So that’s approximately 115 mph. We were keeping our distance and trying to keep up with him. There were times where he was pulling away, and he was definitely up there in speeds,” he said.
Both Copter4 crew members said covering the chase was a true team effort.
“It’s a big coordination between both of us and then also the news desk. We’re trying to call them, tell them where we’re at, I’m talking to the control towers, and doing everything on the aviation side,” Fess said.
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