TUSCOLA — A Rockford couple who led police on a high-speed chase that spanned seven East Central Illinois counties late Wednesday and early Thursday is now in jail in Tuscola on armed robbery charges from northern Illinois.
A release from the Douglas County Sheriff's Office said Lindsay M. Whittington, 29, and Robert P. Taylor, 41, first caught the attention of LeRoy police in McLean County about 10:30 p.m. Wednesday. The license plate on the mini-van they were in had been reported stolen from Rockford.
Driven by Whittington, the van took off when the police tried to stop it. Police pursued the van on Interstate 74 east through DeWitt and Piatt counties and into Champaign County, where it turned south on I-57.
About 11 p.m., a Douglas County sheriff's deputy saw the van speed through a red light on U.S. 36 near I-57 in Tuscola. The driver refused to stop for the deputy, turned off the van's lights and traveled in the oncoming lane of traffic. Due to safety concerns, the Douglas County deputy ended the pursuit.
Shortly after, Villa Grove police saw the same van drive through Villa Grove extremely fast and again tried to stop it without success. The pursuit by the Villa Grove officer lasted about five minutes before the van headed back to the north into Champaign County at speeds over 100 mph.
Then, about a half-hour later, the same van was spotted south of Villa Grove and again a Douglas County deputy tried to stop it. Since there was no civilian traffic around, the deputy kept up the chase with help from several area departments, including Tuscola, Arcola, Arthur, Mattoon and the Coles and Moultrie county sheriff's offices.
The chase lasted about an hour and covered 50 miles through Douglas, Coles and Moultrie counties, reaching speeds of up to 100 mph. At one point during the chase, the van crossed two lanes of traffic and hit a Douglas County squad car, causing damage but no injury.
The chase ended about 12:50 a.m. Thursday when the van crashed into a ditch on Douglas County Road 570 E, just south of Illinois 133, about 3 miles west of Arcola.
Taylor and Whittington got out of the van and ran but were caught and arrested.
Police confirmed that the pair was wanted for an armed robbery in Winnebago County.
In addition to that charge, Whittington is being held on preliminary charges of driving under the influence, aggravated battery, aggravated fleeing and eluding and possession of drug paraphernalia.
Douglas County State's Attorney Kevin Nolan said Whittington was allegedly smoking cannabis as she drove "to calm herself." Nolan said the plan is for Winnebago County police to come get the pair Thursday.
"We'll get charges on file next week and get in line,” Nolan said, noting that any criminal charges he would file against the pair would be less serious than the armed robbery charge from Winnebago.