Crime & Courts

Body found in Arkansas River after man kills himself during police chase, sheriff says

Nicholas Curtice
Nicholas Curtice Courtesy Photo

Law enforcement have found the body of a man who killed himself while standing in the Arkansas River after a police chase, a Kansas sheriff said.

The body of Nicholas Curtice, 36, of rural Ellinwood, was found Tuesday morning about 1200 feet downstream of where he shot himself, Barton County Sheriff Brian Bellendir said in a news release.

The police chase started when a sheriff’s deputy attempted to stop Curtice at around 11 p.m. Monday, Bellendir said. Curtice, a convicted felon, was wanted on Barton County District Court warrants. He fled from the deputy at the intersection of Fifth and Odell in Great Bend.

The pursuit ended when Curtice’s 2002 Chevrolet Avalanche crashed into a ravine near the bank of the Arkansas River and became disabled. Curtice got out of the pickup truck and put a gun to his head, according to the news release, and ignored the deputy’s multiple orders to drop the weapon.

Curtice fired a single shot after wading into the water and his body was swept away by the swift current, Bellendir said.

The search for his body was suspended overnight and resumed in the morning, with assistance from Gread Bend police officers and firefighters, Kansas Highway Patrol troopers and the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks. A coroner ruled Curtice’s death to be suicide.

State prison records from the Kansas Department of Corrections show Curtice has been convicted of multiple felony and misdemeanor crimes in Barton County since 2005. The most recent convictions were in February for aggravated battery, fleeing and eluding law enforcement and criminal damage to property.

That case stemmed from an April 2018 police pursuit. At the time, Bellendir said, a deputy tried to pull Curtice over for a broken brake light, but he sped away and later drove into a stop sign and hit a deer at about 80 mph.

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