A runaway teenage girl who gave the officer who picked her up the slip Thursday night is lodged in a juvenile treatment facility following an extensive, multi-agency search.
Starke County Sheriff Bill Dulin says deputies were investigating a report of a runaway teenage girl. An off-duty deputy found her walking on Toto Road and called for an on-duty officer to assist. When they approached the girl, the officers reportedly determined she was under the influence of alcohol and placed her under arrest.
While en route to the Starke County Justice Center, the girl managed to unsnap her seatbelt and got out of the slow-moving patrol car. She then fled into a heavily wooded area on 550 East, according to Dulin.
Several sheriff’s deputies, including both K-9 officers, arrived and searched the area. Knox City Police and the Pulaski County Sheriff’s Deputies and their K-9 officer also helped with the search. Dulin says the strong winds kept the dogs from picking up the girl’s scent.
The officers canvassed the area for 90 minutes before broadening their search. That’s when a Starke County deputy who was using his patrol car’s thermal imaging camera spotted someone running about a mile and a half from the area where the girl escaped. The other officers closed in and apprehended her. She was treated at IU Health Starke Hospital and released to a juvenile facility.
Officers from Starke County Community Corrections, DNR and the Knox-Center Township Volunteer Fire Department aided with the search.