A Las Cruces man was arrested Sunday night after Doña Ana County Sheriff’s deputies say he led them on a high-speed chase with four small children in his truck.
Just before 9 p.m. John Willis Levine, 37, was reportedly driving south on N.M. Highway 478 when a sheriff’s deputy driving northbound calculated his speed at 64 miles per hour in a posted 55-miles-per-hour zone.
When the deputy made a u-turn to pull Levine over, Levine saw the emergency lights and increased his speed.
Levine had five passengers: his two daughters, ages two and four; and a woman and her two daughters, ages two and six. He led deputies through several side streets before eventually abandoning the truck near Harper Road and East Side Canal Road. He fled on foot with his daughters and allegedly hid from deputies in a nearby irrigation ditch.
Deputies said Levine called his girlfriend from the ditch and asked her to call the mother of his children to come pick them up.
The children’s mother reportedly called sheriff’s deputies before picking up her children and Levine, and returned home to the 3300 block of Conlee in Las Cruces, where they were met by two Doña Ana County Sheriff’s deputies.
Child Protective Services was contacted and the children were entrusted to the custody of their mother.
Investigators say Levine was reportedly out on bail from a drunk-driving charge, child abuse and resisting or obstructing in February 2012.
He’s been charged with aggravated fleeing from a uniformed law enforcement officer and four counts of child abuse, one for each child who was in the vehicle at the time of the pursuit.
Levine was taken to the Doña Ana County Detention Center, where he’s being held on a $10,000 surety bond.
Neither the children nor the female passenger was injured in the incident.