Cyclist leads sheriff’s detective on 140 mph chase


LEE COUNTY – A motorcyclist led a Lee County Sheriff’s detective on a vehicle chase around the Highway 61 bypass into Des Moines County at speeds in excess of 140 mph on Monday afternoon.

According to Chief Deputy Will Conlee, Detective Chad Donaldson was in a black unmarked cruiser heading northbound on the bypass, when a motorcycle came up behind the cruiser going in excess of 80 mph.

Conlee said the cyclist, later identified as Jesse Richard Garnsey, 40, then went around the cruiser and headed northbound at a high rate of speed. Donaldson turned on his lights and pursued Garnsey through Lee County where he notified LeeComm dispatch that the chase was exceeding 140 mph and the cyclist was weaving in and out of traffic making the chase difficult.

Donaldson requested LeeComm to notify Des Moines County and Burlington authorities of the chase, but the dispatcher said the LeeComm system had “frozen up” and communication couldn’t be established.

Another deputy out of position in the chase tried to notify Burlington Police and Des Moines County Sheriff’s department via the sheriff’s department’s new onboard computer systems. The system’s Global Positioning System (GPS) indicates where other local, county and state law enforcement vehicles are with respect to that particular cruiser’s position.

The deputy tagged two of the vehicles showing on his system with messages alerting them of the chase but didn’t get a response immediately.

Donaldson pursued Garnsey into Des Moines County and the City of Burlington down Summer Street and then lost sight of the cyclist. Des Moines County Sheriff’s deputies joined the search at that point and were able to locate Garnsey, who was arrested and charged with driving while license revoked, reckless driving, no insurance, speeding and operation without a registration.

Conlee said he couldn’t be charged with eluding because Donaldson was in an unmarked vehicle.

Garnsey is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. He was booked into the Lee County Jail.

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