DUI suspect crashes and then flees the scene; corrections officer assists with arrest

Jon Johnson File Photo/Gila Herald

Suspect spent about a year in prison after an aggravated DUI crash in 2017

By Jon Johnson

jonjohnsonnews@gmail.com

GRAHAM COUNTY – Jeremy Jacob Vanocker, 35, of Safford, is looking at a possible return to prison after allegedly crashing another vehicle while intoxicated. 

According to a Graham County Sheriff’s Office report, Vanocker was driving a white, 2006 Ford Mustang convertible at about 10:14 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 2, when a corrections officer witnessed him miss the turn at Bowie Avenue and drive off Solomon Road, hit an embankment and ramp over a canal, ending up just short of a canal running east and west along Solomon Cemetery Road. 

When the corrections officer stopped to make sure the driver wasn’t injured, Vanocker got out of his vehicle and told her to leave, according to her statement to a deputy. She said Vanocker appeared to be intoxicated and was stumbling and slurring his words. 

Vanocker then allegedly attempted to drive away from the scene but couldn’t because his car was stuck. The corrections officer had already called in the crash to Graham County Dispatch, and after Vanocker told her to leave for a second time she drove off because she felt he wasn’t going anywhere and deputies were bound to be there shortly. 

However, the corrections officer reported seeing an older 1950s-style truck stop and pull the Mustang free. Vanocker then got back into the car and began driving northbound on Bowie Avenue. 

The corrections officer followed and reported Vanocker was traveling at about 80 mph while running the stop signs at Clifton Street and U.S. Highway 70. She also reported Vanocker was swerving badly and was driving with a flat front passenger tire. 

Due to the corrections officer’s continued updates of Vanocker’s position, a deputy quickly caught up to him on Sanchez Road. Vanocker initially refused to yield to the deputy but eventually pulled over and was taken into custody at gunpoint. 

Vanocker showed obvious signs of intoxication, according to the report, and was taken to the Graham County Adult Detention Center to have his blood taken for DUI testing purposes. He allegedly admitted to consuming three beers.  

Contributed Photo/Courtesy GCSO: Jeremy Vanocker 2017 booking photo

Vanocker was identified by an Arizona Identification Card in his possession. His license is currently suspended and he was charged twice this year for driving on a suspended license. 

Vanocker previously spent about a year in prison after crashing a white, 1999, Chevrolet suburban at Dankworth Pond during May 2017. In that case, Vanocker left his date in the crashed vehicle and attempted to flee the scene on foot. When apprehended, Vanocker was combative with deputies and spat on a healthcare worker’s face when treated at Mt. Graham Regional Medical Center. 

He was initially booked on charges of DUI, trespassing in the third degree, leaving the scene of an accident that caused injury, reckless driving, possession of marijuana, possession of drug paraphernalia, threatening or intimidating, aggravated assault, resisting arrest, and a warrant out of Texas for possession of a firearm by a felon in a weapon-free zone. 

Vanocker then took a plea agreement and plead guilty to aggravated DUI, endangerment, resisting arrest, and aggravated assault against medical staff and spent about a year in prison.

Due to his previous felonies, Vanocker is looking at a possible substantial prison term if convicted on new charges relating to the crash Friday. After the blood draw was finished, he was transported to his residence and released to a woman who was advised that he was not allowed to operate a motor vehicle. 

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