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Police identify man who died during pursuit in Fort Smith

According to police, Justin Battenfield, 34, of Van Buren died after a police chase ended in a vehicle accident in Fort Smith.

FORT SMITH, Ark. — According to Fort Smith police, one person is dead after a police chase ended in a vehicle accident in Fort Smith.

After fleeing from law enforcement officers over an estimated 20-mile stretch of highway, Justin Battenfield, 34, of Van Buren died as his vehicle left the roadway in a crash along the 7,200 block of Arkansas Highway 255 in Fort Smith.

An Arkansas State Police patrol car was involved in the crash leaving one trooper injured.  

The injured trooper has been identified as Shawn Ellis. 

At approximately 6:30 a.m. Friday (April 10), an officer of the U.S. Forest Service initiated a pursuit of a southbound vehicle on U.S. Highway 71. 

According to law enforcement officials, the officer had reportedly witnessed the vehicle fail to stop for a traffic signal and pass through the intersection along the highway shoulder. 

As a Sebastian County sheriff’s deputy joined the pursuit, Battenfield reversed direction, traveling northbound along U.S. 71 where state troopers took the lead in the pursuit north of the Witcherville community. 

Moments before 7 a.m. Battenfield, still fleeing from federal, state, and county law enforcement officers, turned his vehicle eastbound onto Arkansas Highway 255 where he encountered Trooper Ellis who attempted to stop the vehicle by using a PIT maneuver. The maneuver led to Ellis' patrol car and Battenfield’s vehicle leaving the roadway and overturning. 

Ellis has been hospitalized in Little Rock with non-life threatening injuries. 

The Arkansas State Police Highway Patrol Division and Special Agents of the Criminal Investigation Division are continuing their investigation.

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