Man Believed AWOL, Arrested After High-Speed Chase in Independence County

December 9, 2003 - Posted at 4:21 p.m. CDT

BATESVILLE, AR - Authorities arrested a man they say was absent without leave from military duty after a 65-mile, high-speed chase Sunday.

18-year-old Ralph J. Thatch of Batesville was in the Independence County jail today, charged with fleeing police and reckless driving.

He was expected to bond out and return to his parents, who are going to take him back to military headquarters.

Thatch was believed to be among the Arkansas soldiers who are stationed at Fort Hood, Texas, in preparation for a mission in Iraq.

During the chase, the pickup reached speeds of up to 100 miles per hour before heading north through Cushman on Arkansas 69 and on to Mount Pleasant and Melbourne in Izard County.

Thatch was arrested after the truck got stuck in a field.

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)