Police say driver who fled, crashed was suicidal

The crash that killed a 24-year-old man fleeing from police at about noon on Saturday appears to be a case of suicide, Wichita authorities said Monday.

William Corbett swerved his girlfriend's pickup into oncoming traffic on 47th Street South at Euclid, slamming into an SUV at perhaps 60 mph, police said.

He was pronounced dead at the scene. Two women in the SUV, ages 39 and 24, were taken to local hospitals. They were listed in fair condition Monday.

"We'll never know" why Corbett decided to kill himself, Deputy Chief Tom Stolz said.

Corbett had a history of mental illness and suicide attempts, Stolz said, and had told a relative by phone moments before the collision that he was going to die.

Corbett's girlfriend called 911 at 11:56 a.m. Saturday to report that she had been beaten. She gave a description of her pickup, which Corbett had taken.

Within a few minutes of the 911 call, a patrol officer spotted the pickup at 47th and Seneca. He flipped on his lights and sirens in an attempt to pull the pickup over, Stolz said.

Events unfolded so quickly, Stolz said, that the chase was under way before other officers had even arrived at the house in the 3200 block of South Waco where the domestic violence had been reported.

Corbett sped away on 47th and the officer pursued. The chase reached speeds of about 60 mph before Corbett swerved into oncoming traffic.

Department policy calls for several factors to be considered when deciding whether to continue or call off a vehicle pursuit, Stolz said. Among those are time of day, traffic volume, speed of the vehicles involved and the alleged offense.

The officer involved in the chase was still working through that checklist with a supervisor when the collision occurred, Stolz said.

The pursuing officer had begun to slow down before the crash to disengage the pursuit, Stolz said, though his lights and sirens were still activated.

A preliminary review of the officer's actions showed he followed departmental policy, Stolz said.