CASA GRANDE — A Tucson man is facing a criminal charge after he allegedly fled from deputies, leading them on a chase through private front yards with three people who may have entered the country illegally in the vehicle.

According to Pinal County Superior Court records, Thomas J. Lewis, 22, is charged with unlawful flight from a law enforcement vehicle.

At 9:44 p.m. on Sept. 13, a Pinal County Sheriff’s deputy spotted a Nissan sedan driving west at around 92 mph in a 75 mph zone near mile marker 187 on Interstate 10. When the deputy attempted to pull the vehicle over, Lewis allegedly slowed to 55 mph but continued to drive west on I-10, ignoring the deputy’s lights and sirens.

Around mile marker 184, Lewis allegedly slowed, pulled onto the right shoulder of the road and then accelerated back onto the roadway. The deputy called a pursuit. Speeds during the pursuit reached between 100 to 110 mph, according to court records.

During the pursuit, Lewis got off the interstate at State Route 587, turned around and got back onto I-10 and started driving east in the westbound lanes of the interstate. He then drove across the eastbound lanes of the interstate and back onto SR 587.

Lewis then drove across several private front yards of homes on the Gila River Indian Community before getting back onto SR 587 and then drove off-road toward I-10.

Lewis brought the vehicle to a stop after a 15-mile pursuit in front of a fence blocking access to the interstate. He was arrested along with three other people in the vehicle who may have been in the country illegally.

According to the report, Lewis told deputies that a friend provided him with the vehicle and told him to pick up the three passengers in Tucson and drive them to Phoenix. He told deputies that he “freaked out” from the deputy’s lights and siren because he did not have a driver’s license and faced a warrant for his arrest. He also allegedly told deputies that he thought it might be fun to run from deputies.

The report said he apologized to deputies, saying that he should have stopped.

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Suzanne Adams-Ockrassa is a reporter covering the city of Casa Grande and the surrounding area, as well as Central Arizona College. She can be reached at sadams@pinalcentral.com.

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