BY ANGIE JACKSON
---- — TRAVERSE CITY — Authorities arrested a Traverse City man after they said he drove off from a gas station without paying and led police on a high-speed chase through Kalkaska and Grand Traverse counties.
The Sunday night pursuit ended at U.S. 31 and 3 Mile Road, where the suspect's vehicle crashed into a utility pole and cut power to 110 Traverse City Light & Power customers.
Nathan Vaughn Koeneman, 23, was arraigned Monday on charges of fleeing and eluding police and operating a motor vehicle with the presence of a controlled substance in his system.
An anonymous caller alerted the Kalkaska County Sheriff's Department that Koeneman drove off from a Williamsburg gas station without paying. Deputies stopped the vehicle at M-72 and Smith Lake Road shortly before 6 p.m. and made contact with Koeneman before he took off on M-72.
"The deputy was standing there talking to him but he wasn’t responding. He was probably debating, 'Do I do this or don’t I'," Sheriff David Israel said.
Koeneman fled into Grand Traverse County at speeds of 90 mph while disregarding traffic signals, police said. He continued on U.S. 31, and the Grand Traverse Sheriff's Department set up cars at busy intersections.
Stop sticks deployed by Michigan State Police at U.S. 31 and 4 Mile Road slowed Koeneman's vehicle, which eventually veered off the road at 3 Mile Road.
The car struck an AT&T pole with Traverse City Light & Power lines attached, said Tim Arends, Traverse City Light & Power interim executive director.
Arends was working about 7 p.m. when the lights flashed and ambulance sirens sounded.
"Then the phone started ringing," he said.
The crash snapped the pole, Arends said, and cut off power to 110 customers for roughly two hours. One customer went without power until Monday morning. A crew of five people worked until 5 a.m. to replace poles, Arends said.
Koeneman was taken to Munson Medical Center after a brief foot chase. He is lodged in Kalkaska County Jail on a $200,000 cash or surety bond.
The Grand Traverse Sheriff's Department is investigating the gas theft.