PRYOR, OK —
When Buford Ranch cowboy Lucas Langenderfer stopped at Clanton’s Cafe in Vinita for breakfast Saturday, he never expected to lose his truck.
After his meal, Langenderfer found the 2013 GMC flatbed truck had been stolen. Sam Buford, the truck's owner, tracked the vehicle with its global positioning system.
“Mr. Buford got a hit on the GPS and I went to check it out,” said Officer Kyle Flud of the Langley Police Department. “I went to Quick Lube in Langley and spotted both stolen vehicles.”
Along with the GMC truck, two suspects were in possession of a 1995 Chevrolet pickup from Crawford County, Kan.
Steven Mortell, Porter, was driving Buford's GMC truck and Kendall Crosswhite, Joplin, Mo., was driving the Chevy.
“Once I spotted both trucks, the two men jumped in their trucks and the chase began. The GRDA (Grand River Dam Authority) helicopter got involved just northeast of Adair,” said Flud, who said the case continued and was picked up by the Oklahoma Highway Patrol, Mayes County Sheriff's Office, GRDA Police and Vinita Police Department.
The Craig County truck theft became a chase in Mayes County with law enforcement chasing both stolen vehicles.
“I chased them to Wat Henry Ranch where they busted through the fence. I was the only one with a 4-wheel drive so I pursued them.” said Flud. “The crazy part is that the owner of the Wat Ranch is Sam Buford.”
Flud said the suspects, both fugitives with outstanding warrants, made circles in the pasture.
“They ran 300 or 400 yards. I ran the fence line and found an opening in the fence. I didn't want to damage Mr. Buford's fence any more than it had already been damaged,” said Flud, who chased the suspects on foot.
Flud placed the fugitives in custody. Flud, who has been a police officer for 10 years, said he was “just lucky.
“Having the helicopter there was a huge comfort. I knew that if something went wrong they would land and give me a hand. Everyone else was basically locked out because of the geography but if something had gone south I know the helicopter would have had my back,” said Flud.
Because the Chevrolet was stolen in Kansas, Flud said he had no details about that theft. The suspects were transported to the Mayes County Jail.
Mortell and Crosswhite were arragined in Mayes County District Court Monday, each charged with possession of a stolen vehicle and eluding a police officer. Both having prior criminal records, bond was set in the amount of $100,000 each. Both will remain in jail unless bond is posted.
In Ottawa County, Mortell was charged with possession of a stolen vehicle and assault and battery upon a police officer, both of which were filed in 2006. In 2005 in Ottawa County, he was charged with uttering a forged instrument.