Authorities arrest fleeing suspect from Sandy stabbing incident in St. George

ST. GEORGE – A suspect in a double-stabbing incident out of Sandy was arrested in St. George Monday morning after being chased down by police.

The St. George Police Department was informed that Sione Vaitai, 26, of Sandy, was in St. George Sunday night. Vaitai is wanted by the Sandy Police Department for an alleged domestic violence incident that occurred Friday.

Sione Vaitai, of Sandy, Utah, bookings photo | Photo courtesy of the Sandy Police Department, St. George News

“He basically grabbed a really large knife and attacked his teenage sister and his father,” Sandy City Police Sgt. Jason Nielsen said Monday.

Other family members called 911 and Vaitai left the scene before police arrived. The two stabbing victims were transported to the hospital in critical condition, Nielsen said, but have since been upgraded to stable condition.

While searching for Vaitai, Sandy Police received a tip that he was in the St. George area. They contacted the St. George Police Department Sunday.

“We were notified he was in our area and we’ve been communicating with Sandy City,” St. George Police Capt. Mike Giles said Monday following the arrest.

Vaitai was located at a residence near Riverside Drive and Mall Drive and police set up watch – and waited.

“Ourselves and the Utah Highway Patrol had been involved in surveilling the residence and coming up with a plan to address the situation,” Giles said.

That plan was put into action around 9:30 a.m. Police attempted to detain Vaitai once he left the residence. Instead, Vaitai proceeded to lead officers on a chase in a white 2009 Chevy Silverado pickup truck.

Investigators go through the truck Sione Vaitai, 26, of Sandy, used in an attempt to flee police. Vaitai is a suspect in a stabbing incident involving his father and younger sister in Sandy. He fled the scene and was later found in St. George where he was apprehended, St. George, Utah, May 15, 2017 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

A PIT (Pursuit Intervention Technique) maneuver – a move used by police to potentially disable a fleeing vehicle – was initiated by two UHP troopers while on Mall Drive. While making contact with the truck, it did not stop the truck.

At one point during the pursuit the back passenger-side wheel of the pickup was ripped off and a stop sign was run over as it was ripped out of the ground.

A second PIT Maneuver was attempted by a pursuing St. George Police officer, Giles said. This time Vaitai’s truck came to a stop in the area of East 280 North and North Mall Drive and he was surrounded by police.

“These efforts resulted in the apprehension of the suspect and his vehicle was disabled,” Giles said. “He did comply with officers and was taken into custody without further action.”

Vaitai was handcuffed and given a preliminary examination by Gold Cross Ambulance medics at the scene prior to being taken to Dixie Regional Medical Center. Once medically cleared, he will be booked into the Washington County Purgatory Correctional Facility.

Sione Vaitai, 26, of Sandy, is a suspect in a stabbing incident involving his father and younger sister in Sandy. He fled the scene and was later found in St. George where he was apprehended following a short-lived pursuit down Mall Drive, St. George, Utah, May 15, 2017 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

Fossil Ridge School, 383 S. Mall Drive, was placed on temporary lock-out status while the pursuit took place, Giles said.

Vaitai faces sundry charges in both Sandy and St. George, though not all have been solidified as the respective incidents are still under investigation, both Giles and Nielsen said.

“Thank you to local law enforcement agencies for helping us out,” Nielsen said of the St. George Police and UHP.

Persons arrested or charged are presumed innocent until found guilty in a court of law or as otherwise decided by a trier-of-fact.

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Email: mkessler@stgnews.com

Twitter: @MoriKessler

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2017, all rights reserved.

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