Crime & Courts

High-speed chase suspect deemed fit for trial in La Salle County

Thomson man scheduled for Jan. 24 trial

A Thomson man charged in an April high-speed chase — one in which authorities said a police officer had to dive for cover and a school bus was nearly hit — has been found fit for trial and will stand before a jury Jan. 24.

James R. Tracy, 38, of Thomson, had been found unfit to assist his lawyer and trial and was remanded in mid-July to the Department of Human Services for treatment. He responded well and Chief Judge H. Chris Ryan Jr. entered a finding Wednesday that Tracy has the faculties to assist defense counsel.

Tracy’s progress was apparent from the spectator gallery. At previous hearings he had ranted incoherently about rights violations and demanded a hearing before the Supreme Court of the United States. Wednesday, he was soft-spoken, restrained and compliant with court personnel.

Tracy will next appear Jan. 14 for a final pre-trial conference and, barring a plea or continuance, stand for trial 10 days later. He could face up to 3 years in prison if convicted of any of his three felonies — aggravated assault and two counts of aggravated fleeing and eluding — in connection with the April 26 police pursuit started in Lostant and ended in Utica.

The chase began when a Lostant police officer tried to stop a black Toyota truck headed south on Route 251 north of Route 18, police said. The driver refused to stop and, after turning around from a dead-end county road, “veered towards” two La Salle County sheriff’s deputies, one of whom was laying stop sticks, police said. The deputy had to jump out of the way to avoid being struck.

The driver, later identified as Tracy by authorities, then traveled onto Interstates 39 and 80 and braked to get the pursuing police cruiser to hit him from behind, police said. The pursuit reached a top speed of 115 mph and Tracy allegedly drove at a school bus but then steered away before impact, according to police. The Toyota finally was halted at the Utica exit.