LAPORTE, Ind. -- Right now the search is on for a fugitive. Police say 22-year-old William Blankenship was handcuffed when he managed to steal a police car Tuesday evening.
It happened after Blankenship was stopped police near a Family Express gas station in the town of Kouts, Indiana. Blankenship was arrested and put in the squad car after an officer found drugs in his car and that is when police took off in the cruiser.
Police searched all night for Blankenship and the patrol car, along with the officer's two guns. Early Wednesday morning police found the vehicle, with the weapons inside, in the southern part of La Porte County.
The search has been handed over to Porter County officials, along with the U.S. Marshall. Still, local law enforcement agencies say they will be on the look out until Blankenship is found.
The 22-year-old was able steal kouts' only police cruiser and drive off while in handcuffs. Within minutes police agencies across several counties were tracking down the car.
"The subject was evidently using a cell phone and it was hitting off the repeater system on the cell phone towers in our county," says La Porte County Sheriff Michael Mollenhauer.
Initially, officers thought Blankenship was speeding West down SR 8 towards Illinois. After picking up Blankenship's the cell phone signal, police found out he was actually heading into the southern part of La Porte county.
"All our units started moving towards that area, as well as the other agencies, to basically saturate the southern part of the county to see if we could find the vehicle," says Mollenhauer.
Police searched all night and it looked as though Blankenship had gotten away when one officer spotted skid marks along a rural road.
The marks lead officers straight to the abandoned squad car which was completely submerged in water. Blankenship had crashed the police cruiser into a water-filled ditch and officers says he is lucky he got out alive.
"handcuffed, why that has to be a lot more difficult to open the door and swim to shore. It was a wide ditch, so you wouldn't just step out of the vehicle and walk out," says Mollenhauer.
Police says Blankenship is desperate and therefore could be dangerous, which is why they are asking people to report any suspicious people or vehicles in their area.