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Vian man arrested after high-speed chase

Wednesday, June 7, 2023 - A high-speed chase in May ended in the arrest of a Vian man in Sallisaw.

Bobby Lee Rowell, 63, was charged with attempting to elude a police officer, a felony punishable by up to one year in prison or a fine of up to $2,000 or both if he is convicted.

Rowell was also charged with two misdemeanors: driving a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol and carrying weapons.

On May 18, a Sallisaw police officer informed by a police captain that a man identified as Rowell was inside Walmart. The officer knew Rowell was a convicted felon and on federal probation.

Rowell was thought to be with Jessica Morris, a known associate of Rowell. Morris has two warrants, one in Sallisaw, the other in Sequoyah County.

The police captain alerted the officer that Morris’ vehicle was parked in the Walmart lot.

The officer parked on the south side of the parking lot, waiting for the two to leave in the vehicle.

According to the affidavit filed in the case, the vehicle pulled out of the parking lot, turning north toward the store, then turned west. The car then stopped at the front door of Walmart briefly, as if someone was being picked up.

The vehicle then headed west on Mentzer Street and the officer initiated a traffic stop. The car turned south on Kerr Boulevard and appeared to be slowing as if it was going to stop, but it continued traveling on Kerr and turned west on Cherokee Avenue.

The vehicle then accelerated and turned north on Shiloh Street, reaching speeds of 100 mph, then turned east on McHenry Street. The driver traveled on McHenry before turning north onto JT Stites Road, never attempting to stop or slow down at two different intersections.

The car was approaching a dead end off Stites, and the officer watched as the vehicle stopped and saw that the driver’s side door was open. The officer alerted dispatch that the vehicle had been abandoned and was rolling backwards on a hill and the driver had fled.

Officers began looking for the suspects. Rowell yelled from the south side of the tree line, “I’m right here.... I only ran because I’m high.”

Rowell was ordered to put his hands up and walk toward the officers. Rowell complied, was ordered to his knees and then onto his stomach, and he was placed in handcuffs and into the back seat of a patrol car.

A search of the vehicle revealed a synthetic device connected with a bladder that is commonly used as a device for someone who is subject to a drug test to use fake urine instead of their own. The officer also discovered several small plastic bags, which are commonly used in the distribution of drugs.

Rowell was transported to the Sallisaw jail for field-sobriety tests, which he failed. He was then taken to Northeastern Health Systems-Sequoyah, where he tried to undergo a blood test. After medical personnel attempted to draw his blood the first time, Rowell refused further efforts.

Laura Brown, Staff Writer

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