Police: AWOL Serviceman Dies In Fiery Crash After Bixby Pursuit

Thursday, April 3rd 2014, 6:01 pm
By: News On 6

A police chase in Bixby ended suddenly when two cars crashed head on. And police said it might not have been an accident. A Bixby family met great tragedy Thursday afternoon, when a father watched his teenage son crash into oncoming traffic, ending his life.

According to police, the chase began after a concerned father began chasing his 20-year-old son, who was reportedly absent without leave from the U.S. Air Force and suicidal, the father said. The father then called police and they joined in on the chase about 3 p.m.

The pursuit ended near 131st Street and Mingo Road when Justin Ryan Phillips slammed into a dump truck and died in a fiery crash.

Witnesses said it sounded like an explosion.

"All of a sudden I heard this explosion, and I looked over there and there was nothing but smoke and flames," Heather Billings said.

Officials believe the 20-year-old man intentionally swerved into the dump truck in an act of suicide. He was going between 75 and 85 mph when he collided with the dump truck, according to authorities.

A police officer, not anticipating the crash, hit the back of the car. Firefighters saved the dump truck driver, and the officer is OK.

But police said the 20 year old in the car likely didn't want to be saved. 

Police said he sped up and swerved into oncoming traffic to hit the dump truck.

He then followed his son from 131st and Sheridan and police fell in behind. The father watched his son crash and die.

"He was obviously upset. He witnessed the incident,"Sgt. Andy Choate said."We do have members of his church family with him tonight,"

Police said they felt for the father.

"It's especially tough if when we get on scene and there's already family members here," Choate said. "It takes a toll on the emotional stress and drain on the law enforcement officer that has to work that collision."

We have reached out to Tinker Air Force Base to find out if the man recently had been deployed and for his official status with the military.