SPRINGDALE, Ohio (FOX19) - A driver fleeing police on Interstate 275 intentionally swerved to hit two Springdale police cruisers, causing a crash that killed Officer Kaia Grant as she prepared to throw down tire-deflation devices to try to stop him, police said Sunday
Elmwood Place police started pursuing Terry Blankenship, 42, of Goshen about 8 p.m. Saturday. He refused to pull over for a traffic stop, said Officer Keenan Riordan, a spokesman for Springdale police.
Blankenship, who was wanted on an open felony warrant for aggravated burglary out of Blanchester, led Elmwood officers on a chase up on northbound I-75 to eastbound I-275,he said.
An alert was issued to warn other law enforcement that he was “armed and dangerous” and threatened "suicide by cop, Riordan said.
Officer Grant and Sgt. Andrew Davis were listening to the pursuit on the police radio and knew it was coming into their jurisdiction.
They went out on the highway to throw down so-called stop sticks between Ohio 4 and Winton Road.
They were doing what police do everyday across America: putting their lives on the line to protect and serve the communities they love.
Speeds during the chase reached about 60 mph, Riordan said.
Blankenship used his truck as a weapon, intentionally swerving and “rammed” their cruisers, he said.
“It’s our belief that Mr. Blankenship purposefully diverted his course of travel to purposefully strike our officers,” he said.
The crash severely injured Officer Grant, who received the brunt of the impact, and also injured Sgt. Davis, police said.
One of the two cruisers is considered a total loss.
Officer Grant was flown to University of Cincinnati Medical Center, where she was pronounced dead.
She was 33-years-old and had served as a police officer in Springdale eight years.
Davis, a 30-year veteran, was taken to Bethesda North Hospital. He was treated and released later that evening.
Riordan said police recently received training on situations like this.
“We want them to put themselves in a safe situation to avoid these type of circumstances,” Riordan said. “I know our officers used their vehicles as shields. Unfortunately, we never expected the suspect to what we believe deliberately ram the vehicles and use his own vehicle as a weapon. It’s just a really, really unfortunate time for us, for sure.”
Police recovered a handgun at the scene, placed Blankenship in custody and took him to a hospital.
He remained hospitalized Sunday in serious condition, Riordan said.
Charges are pending in connection with Officer Grant’s death. Springdale police said they planned to consult this week with the Hamilton County Prosecutor’s Office.
The Ohio State Highway Patrol and Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation investigated and handled the crash scene.
The highway was shut down for more than 12 hours Saturday night and early Sunday.
It reopened just before 9 a.m.
Officer Grant was transported from the Hamilton County Coroner’s Office Sunday to Thompson, Hall and Jordan Funeral Home in Forest Park. That’s where she will be prepared for her burial.
She has a police escort until her final resting place is chosen.
Springdale police said they were still working Sunday on funeral arrangements.
Police said the family of a Colerain Township police officer who was killed in the line of duty last year at a traffic crash scene, has reached out through other police agencies to Officer Grant’s family.
“No one knows what the Grant family is going through more than the family of Officer Woods,” Riordan said.
A non-profit agency that provides immediate financial support for families of fallen or disabled officers, The Shield Ohio, also is providing support.
The Shield started in Hamilton County nearly 20 years ago, after Cincinnati Police Officer Kevin Crayon was killed in the line of duty in 2000, Cincinnati city records show.
Then-police chief Tom Streicher paid on his personal credit card to get Officer Crayon’s family to Cincinnati from Atlanta, wrote a Shield trustee, John “Satch” Coletta, who is a retired Delhi Township police chief, wrote in a memo to Mayor John Cranley in 2017.
“The police chiefs at that time saw this as a leadership issue where funds should be available to assist police officers of Hamilton County who were critically injured or killed in the line of duty,” he wrote.
The chiefs put up $100 each to start The Shield and establish its non-profit status. The group has no administrative costs other than postage and some minor expenses.