Cincinnati semi pursuit goes wrong-way on highway

More than 20 minutes of cruiser camera footage from a high-speed pursuit near Cincinnati involving a semi truck shows intense moments as troopers and other law enforcement try to stop its driver.

The video starts with the semi driver speeding head-on at the state trooper at the Five Mile Road exit on I-275. The driver continues to go the wrong direction on the highway.

The semi driver accused of leading police and state troopers on the chase that lasted hours and closed part of I-275 this past weekend called 9-1-1 during the chase, saying he wanted police to him.

That chase Saturday started in the Miami Valley and ended in Cincinnati.

A driver first reported Patrick Berthelot’s erratic driving on I-75 South in southern Montgomery County. A supervisor at the Montgomery County Regional Dispatch Center confirmed to News Center 7 on Tuesday they got a call from that man just after 12:30 p.m. Saturday reporting the erratic semi driver.

After that driver hung up with Montgomery County dispatchers, he called 9-1-1 again a few miles down the highway. WHIO obtained that second 9-1-1 call that was picked up by dispatchers at the Lebanon post of the Ohio State Highway Patrol in Warren County.

Now, that driver was on I-75 South between the exits for state Route 73 in Springboro and state Route 123 in Franklin. “This guy is driving nuts,” the caller told the OSHP dispatcher as he was following the semi. “He was driving through the median in the semi passing everybody. Then went from the median all the way to the far right shoulder.”

"Passing on the left median, left side?" the dispatcher asked. "Oh yeah," said the caller. "Like driving right down in the median right in the dirt. Just throwing dirt, grass, everything."

State troopers started chasing the semi just a few miles further south on I-75 in Butler County. When Patrick Berthelot was eight miles north of the Kentucky state line on I-75, he called 911 himself. You could hear his wife in the background, pleading with dispatchers for help.

In the 9-1-1 call Berthelot made, after hearing his wife in the background, a Hamilton County dispatcher asked, “You’re in the vehicle and he won’t let you out of the vehicle?” And Berthelot answered, “Yep. The Ohio state police are chasing us.”

The call Berthelot made lasted two hours and 30 minutes as he drove down I-75, I-71 and eventually made his way onto I-275 in Cincinnati.

At one point in the call, Berthelot said his wife was cheating on him while she claimed he attacked her earlier in the day. The couple is arguing at points.

“I mean I’m trying to talk to somebody but they won’t let me,” Berthelot says as his voice rises. “She won’t be quiet for five (expletive) minutes!”

At that point of the call, his wife is yelling over top of him pleading with dispatchers for help. “Help me, please,” she can be heard shouting in the semi’s cab. “Will you please tell her to be quiet?” Berthelot asks the dispatcher.

Minutes later, Berthelot makes chilling statements as his wife continues to plead for help.

"Why won't you stop for us?" The dispatcher asks Berthelot. "Because I just want her to be safe. And I already know how this is going to turn out," he replies.

"OK. Why won't she be safe if you stop for us?" the OSHP dispatcher asks.

"The problem is this: I'm facing 20 years in prison. And I'm not gonna go down without a fight, Berthelot says. "The police are going to have to me. This is a plan called suicide by cop. This is my plan. OK? And I've been waiting for this but I wanted to get my wife to the airport to drop her off so she wouldn't have to see this, OK?"

At that point, you can hear his wife saying again, "please help me."

Cincinnati Police eventually got involved in the chase. At one point, police say Berthelot stopped his semi, exited the cab and detached the trailer he was hauling before he got back into the can and continued to drive away from police.

At another point, Cincinnati police say Berthelot let his wife out of the cab, and she was “picked up” by uniformed officers. She was taken to a Cincinnati-area hospital for injuries, including a possible broken leg, that Cincinnati Police Assistant Chief Paul Neudigate said she suffered in “some type of physical assault either prior to getting into the tractor or while the pursuit was ongoing.”

Eventually, a SWAT team sharp shooter shot up the engine block of Berthelot’s semi on I-275, finally bringing the big rig to a halt on the city’s west side. Berthelot was arrested on the highway.

“He would have killed somebody,” Cincinnati Police Assistant Chief Neudigate said Saturday afternoon. “Let me make this clear: Had (the chase) not been shut down, had we not gotten involved, the way he was recklessly driving a 5,000, 10,000 pound vehicle, somebody would have been dead today.”

At his initial court appearance in a Hamilton County courtroom on Monday, a judge told Berthelot he needs $275,000 to get out of jail. Right now, he’s facing kidnapping charges, but Hamilton County prosecutors told WHIO on Tuesday that could change once the case is reviewed by a grand jury.


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By: ThisIsButter (44151.30)

Tags: Cincinnati semi pursuit, wrong way pursuit, vehicles,

Location: Cincinnati