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Homeless man indicted after accidental Body Beach fire

January 6, 2019

Mohave County prosecutors filed charges last week against a homeless man who allegedly fled from Lake Havasu City Police officers after starting an accidental brush fire at Body Beach.

Officers observed smoke over Body Beach at about 11 p.m. on Dec. 19, the police report said, where a large brush fire appeared to have been burning. Police entered the rocky, unpaved area in an attempt to find the source of the smoke and any potential victims who may have been in the area. As officers entered body beach, they allegedly saw a gray sedan driving away from the source of the fire at a high rate of speed.

An additional police cruiser attempted to stop the fleeing vehicle, which according to the report, nearly struck police as it exited the area of Body Beach. The allegedly fleeing vehicle’s driver, later identified as Ronald W. Sutton, 64, turned into Rotary Park.

Pursuing officers stopped Sutton at the northern end of the park, where Sutton exited his vehicle, the report said. An officer approached Sutton with his weapon drawn, and commanded Sutton to raise the back of his shirt to show that he was unarmed. He was then ordered to lie on the ground as he was searched. Sutton complied, the report said. As Sutton was detained at the scene, records checks for his vehicle showed negative results. Although there were no warrants for his arrest, Sutton had been driving without a license plate, the report said. He was transported to Lake Havasu City Jail.

According to police, Lake Havasu CIty firefighters announced the fire was contained shortly afterward.

At Lake Havasu City Jail, Sutton agreed to speak with officers about the incident. Homeless, Sutton had been living in a camp at Body Beach, east of the area’s personal watercraft launch area. According to statements allegedly made by Sutton, he was using the light from two small candles to see as he attempted to use a can of spray paint to decorate a metal frame in his camp. One of the candle flames caused the paint fumes to ignite, he allegedly told officers, and created a fire within Sutton’s tent.

The fire spread quickly, Sutton was quoted by officers. He fled from the location, and allegedly said he wasn’t thinking clearly when he failed to stop for officers at the exit of Body Beach.

Officers observed visible second-degree burns on the right side of Sutton’s face, the report said; and his hands and hair were covered in dirt and ash. Sutton refused medical treatment for his injuries.

There were no other people, or animals, at Sutton’s camp, according to the police report.

Sutton was ultimately transferred to Mohave County Jail, where he remained in custody without bond as of Saturday morning.

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