Oklahoma County sheriff’s traffic stop leads to recovery of stolen car

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OKLAHOMA CITY -- A man behind the wheel of a stolen car made a big mistake when he ran a red light at the intersection of S.W. 4th and Western.

Little did he know, the Oklahoma County sheriff saw the whole thing.

“I decided I would make it my mission to stop the driver,” said Sheriff John Whetsel.

Whetsel was in his personal vehicle, which is equipped with lights and sirens. So he went after the driver, who sped onto I-40 at 80 mph.

The driver exited at Shields. It was around that time the sheriff realized running a red light and speeding was just the beginning.

“His driver’s license had been revoked, he had never had it reinstated and he had just got out of prison,” said Sheriff Whetsel.

And then the sheriff discovered the car was stolen.

Once the car pulled over, Whetsel introduced himself to the man behind the wheel, Sylvester Tucker.

“I told him who I was.  Yes, and I think he knew who I was because he’d been in this very jail,” said Whetsel.

The woman who owns that stolen vehicle didn’t think she’d ever see it again.

“I’d given it up for lost and was ready to start riding the bus,” she said.

She didn’t want us to use her name, but says she’s very happy to have her car back.

“It was in good condition, and you know, all that was in there was some fast food receipts, some leftover salsa,” she said.

And she was surprised to hear that it was the top dog who found it for her.

“I thought it was interesting.  Yeah, not a common occurrence.”

Sheriff Whetsel lost his first wife and two year old daughter in a car crash in 1980 when an officer ran a stop sign during a pursuit.

That personal tragedy fuels his desire to save lives and he says red light violations have exploded in our state.

“I lead by example,” he said.  “More and more Oklahomans are getting killed and injured by people voluntarily, on purpose, running red lights.  And yesterday, I did my part to put an end to it.”

Tucker is facing five different charges.

Four of them are misdemeanors, but the fifth - possession of a stolen vehicle - is a felony.

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