A 24-year-old Greenbush man is dead after stealing a Michigan State Police patrol car and crashing it.
Troopers from the West Branch Post were sent to M-55 and Plank Road in Tawas shortly before 4 a.m. Sunday, July 9 for a report of a man driving a golf cart without headlights.
Troopers stopped the golf cart and arrested the driver, Phillip Everett, 24, on suspicion of drunk driving. He was handcuffed with his arms behind his back in the front passenger seat.
Investigators said while troopers were outside the patrol car securing the golf cart, Everett was able to undo his seatbelt and get the handcuffs in front of him. He then moved into the driver's seat and drove the patrol car away at a high rate of speed.
The vehicle was discovered by police a short time later 20 miles away, at US-23 southbound near E. Bessinger Road in Arenac County.
Everett crashed the patrol car, killing himself.
No other vehicles were involved in the crash.
"We heard gravel flying and trees breaking off," said Philip Weston, resident.
Weston thought a tree had fallen over near his home. Instead, it was a deadly end to the high speed theft.
"We started looking and the neighbor found the guy that was thrown out of the car with the handcuffs on," Weston said.
Investigators said one of the big questions they're trying to answer is how Everett was able to steal the police cruiser in the first place.
"This is the first time since the state police were formed in 1917 that this has ever happened in the history of the state police," MSP Lt. David Kaiser said.
Kaiser said Everett had a thin build. His frame may have allowed him to wiggle himself free. Kaiser said he could do the same thing a few years ago.
"I could sit in a front seat of a patrol car. I could undo that seatbelt and I could flip the handcuffs in front of me. I was thin enough and limber enough I could do that," Kaiser said.
It is unclear why one trooper did not stay with Everett. It is also unclear if police plan to change its policy of keeping people they arrest in the front passenger seat.
"This is something that they will look at and re-evaluate our current policy or official orders," Kaiser said.
As for Weston, he feels sick over the whole incident. He said it is something he'll remember for a long time.
"Just to think that this young guy was killed over stealing a golf cart. You know? Not a good decision on his part you know," Weston said.
The incident remains under investigation.
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