When troopers caught the suspect, he was still handcuffed behind his back.
A 23-year-old man is suspected of stealing a Kansas Highway Patrol vehicle and leading officers on a high-speed chase for more than 50 miles — while handcuffed behind his back, officials said.
The Houdini-like escape unfolded just after noon on Saturday as a Kansas Highway Patrol trooper was transporting Swartwout to a detention facility after he had been arrested on suspicion of auto theft following an earlier pursuit, according to a statement from the Kansas Highway Patrol.
While driving on Highway 25 near Atwood in northwest Kansas, the trooper witnessed a motorcycle crash and stopped to help, leaving Swartwout alone in the patrol car, officials said.
“While the Trooper was assisting the crash victim, the suspect, who was handcuffed behind his back, gained control of the Trooper’s patrol vehicle and drove off,” according to the highway patrol statement.
Other troopers raced to the scene and gave chase after spotting the stolen patrol car headed south on Highway 25, officials said. The suspect got onto Interstate 70 and headed west toward the Kansas-Colorado border, but ran out of gas near Edson, Kansas, roughly 50 miles from where the chase started, officials said.
“The suspect, who was still handcuffed behind his back, fled on foot but was quickly apprehended,” highway patrol officials said in the statement.
Swartwout was examined by an emergency medical services crew that determined he was not injured. He was taken to the Sherman County Jail and booked without further incident, officials said.
No additional information was released.