Dangerous chase during rush hour result of driver having medical emergency

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Police say a man who drove erratically on the highway and led an officer on a short chase was having a medical emergency (Courtesy: Hilliard Police)

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WSYX/WTTE) - A potentially deadly situation was stopped when a police officer from Hilliard, Ohio managed to safely stop a driver swerving all over the interstate during rush hour, after a short chase. Officers now say the driver was having a medical emergency which led to the dangerous pursuit.

Police received reports about a vehicle driving erratically on I-270 on the west side shortly before 6 p.m. Thursday. After stopping on the side of the highway to look for the driver, an officer had to suddenly move his patrol vehicle out of the way to avoid being struck after he saw the SUV veer off the road right behind him.

The officer immediately began following the car with lights and sirens, trying to pull over the driver. Dashcam video shows the SUV going from one side of the highway to the other, veering into the grass and clipping roadway signs. At one point, the driver stops in the grass next to the off-ramp to Tuttle Crossing, only to suddenly drive off again, going all the way across the median and back onto the highway as traffic passes.

"(Send) me some help from somewhere, this guy's going to kill somebody. He's all over all five lanes," the officer radioed dispatch after the driver speeds off again, veering across 270. Seconds later, as the SUV goes into the grass and back onto the highway, the officer performed a PIT maneuver, hitting the SUV and bringing the driver to a stop in the middle of the highway.

While the dashcam points another direction, continued audio reveals the driver saying "I don't know what happened!" and yelling as the officer tells him to get out of the car. The Hilliard officer immediately realizes it's a medical emergency of some kind, asking for a medic as other officers respond to the scene and shut down the highway.

After nearly three minutes, the officer is able to subdue the driver, with audio from the dashcam revealing repeated yelled commands for the driver to put his hands behind the back, while the panicked driver yells.

Hilliard Police say responding medics determined the man was suffering an episode from low blood sugar and were able to treat him. The man only had some minor abrasions, and the officer was uninjured.

"We're extremely proud of this officer, whose actions prevented what could have been a very dangerous situation for not only the man suffering the medical emergency, but other drivers on the road," Hilliard Police PIO Andrea Litchfield said in a statement.

Police also thanked the other drivers who left space for the officer on the interstate, and stopped on the highway when it came to an end, rather than attempting to drive around the scene.

The driver was not charged.