‘All I could think was, is this real?’

By Sandra Mudd (sandra@douglas-budget.com)
The man responsible for last week’s high speed chase that began on Interstate 25 near Douglas and ended near Casper has been identified by the Wyoming Highway Patrol as 38-year-old Jimmie R. Files of Cheyenne. 
He is currently sitting in the Natrona County Detention Center. Exactly what charges Files is facing and how he is doing after being shot by troopers is not yet clear. 
What is clear is that if not for the instincts of an innocent bystander, this situation could have potentially resulted in a very different outcome for both her and Files. 
Glenrock resident Billie Harnden was on the interstate about five miles east of Casper, on her way home from a doctor’s appointment, when she came up behind a semi-truck going what she estimates to be around 70 miles per hour. 
At her speed of 75 miles per hour, she decided to proceed around the semi in an attempt to pass. She was on the left side, about half-way around the semi, when she suddenly began to feel  that “something wasn’t quite right.”
“I couldn’t put a finger on it, but it wasn’t normal,” she said. “The big thing is when you’re driving down the highway and the person in front of you is driving slower than you, your normal instinct is to go around them,” she said.  “Something was telling me not to, telling me to get back behind the truck.” 
As she started to back off to get back behind the truck, she saw two highway patrol officers, side by side, lights on, racing down the opposite side of the interstate. She watched the one on the left veer off into the ditch directly toward her. There was only a small moment between hearing the voice in her head and deciding not to pass, but it was that moment for which Harnden is thankful. 
“It all happened so quickly, it was really just a blur, but immediately after I fell back behind the semi I saw what might have been a silver truck whizz past the semi in the lane I was just in, coming my direction,” she said. Harnden doesn’t know if it was because she was in a valley that she didn’t see the truck coming toward her, what the patrol officer was thinking when he came into the ditch or if he even saw her, but she knows it was not a safe place for him to cross the road, and she knows this was the moment when she knew it wasn’t just her thoughts telling her to get back into the right lane.
“Being a Christian, I know it was the Holy Spirit, the Lord, telling me not to go around. To get back behind the truck,” she said. “If I would have stayed in that lane, I would have had a head on.”
She pulled over to the side of the road and all she saw in her rear view was dust as the truck speed on. “All I could think was, ‘Is this real?’ It all happened so quickly and was so surreal. I was just thanking God that I hadn’t had a head-on,” she said. “If I wouldn’t have followed his voice, I wouldn’t be here right now. Passing the truck would have been the logical thing to do and wouldn’t have been necessary in a normal situation.”
According to Casper Star Tribune reports and a WHP press release, the entire incident started around 3:30 p.m. Aug. 23. Authorities received a call about a truck driving recklessly and were alerted that the truck was stolen when they ran the plates. The high-speed chase ensued when the driver refused to pull over. 
Two patrol officers pursued Files for 40 miles through Converse and Natrona counties. During the course of the chase, traveling at a speed of 100 miles per hour at one point,  Files drove over a spike strip east of Casper, crossed the medium, and drove into oncoming traffic for close to a mile. He then drove back into the medium and was rammed by the patrol car in an attempt to stop Files, who was ultimately shot by police officers while he drove toward them. Files then rammed a patrol car, left the highway and drove into the prairie. Police were able to arrest Files between I-25 and U.S. Highway 20/26 near Blackmore Road at 4:16 p.m.


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