Pursuit lands Jeep in water and Leesburg man in jail

KOSCIUSKO CO. – A Leesburg, IN man, led Indiana State Troopers on a pursuit through a field before crashing into a water-filled ditch on Monday night.

At approximately 10:00 p.m. on May 16, 2022, Trooper Matthew Drudge saw the driver of a gray 2017 Jeep commit a moving violation as it traveled northbound on SR 15 south of Leesburg, IN in Kosciusko County.  Drudge activated the red and blue emergency lights on his marked Indiana State Police Dodge Charger and the Jeep pulled to the right and stopped near the intersection of SR 15 and Levi Lee Road.

As Drudge approached the Jeep on the passenger side he noticed the driver still had his foot on the brakes due to the brake lights being on.  As Drudge began to speak to the driver, later identified as Austin Zarse, 27 of Leesburg, IN, another trooper stopped to see if Drudge needed assistance.  As the assisting trooper began to walk towards the Jeep, Zarse sped off northbound on SR 15.

Zarse led troopers and assisting agencies on a pursuit that continued northbound through Leesburg.  As Zarse approached CR 900 North, he took the pursuit off the roadway and began to drive westbound through a field.  Drudge followed Zarse through the field as he traveled northwest.

Zarse continued to flee until his Jeep ran down an embankment and into Coppes Ditch.  The Jeep became disabled and came to a stop in approximately three feet of water.  Zarse exited the Jeep and was taken into custody but not before he began dumping bags of an unknown substance into the water.

 Zarse was medically cleared for crashing into the ditch and for being in the cold water. He was then arrested and transported to the Kosciusko County Jail for Resisting Law Enforcement, Obstruction of Justice, and Reckless Driving.

The Indiana State Police was assisted by the Kosciusko County Sheriff’s Office, Net-43, Milford Police Department, and Crouse Towing.