Steven Simpkins

Steven Simpkins

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The man who led officers on a high-speed chase from Hamilton to Missoula on New Year's Day — saying he had a child who wasn't breathing and needed to get to a hospital — was in court Wednesday after being charged with a felony.

When deputies arrested Steven Simpkins, 23, outside the emergency room at Community Medical Center, he did not have a child with him, and his child was not at any area hospitals, court documents stated.

Simpkins has been charged with a felony for criminal endangerment and misdemeanors for driving with a suspended license, reckless driving and fleeing.

Acting Justice of the Peace Tracy Rhodes released him on his own recognizance Wednesday, adding that as a condition of his release he was not allowed to drive.

The chase started when Hamilton police tried to pull over Simpkins around 6 p.m. Monday. According to court records Simpkins called emergency dispatchers saying his child wasn't breathing and he would not stop until he got to a hospital in Missoula.

Missoula Undersheriff Rich Maricelli told the Missoulian that officers, believing Simpkins had the child with him, tried to get him to stop to transfer the child to an ambulance.

The pursuit along U.S. Highway 93 reached speeds of 90 miles per hour and included Simpkins driving into oncoming traffic and running a red light in Lolo, a court affidavit stated.

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