When police attempted a routine traffic stop just east of Hood River on Nov. 30, they were led on a bizarre chase that ended in Cascade Locks.
Kenneth Bunzell, 52, of Lakewood, Wash., was arraigned in Circuit Court on Monday for reckless driving and attempting to elude police.
According to Oregon State Police (OSP) Sergeant Dick Morgan, the Nov. 30 incident began about 8:30 a.m. when a motorist traveling on Interstate 84 reported that a vehicle which had entered the freeway from Mosier was being driven erratically. Morgan said an OSP officer in the vicinity arrived at the scene and signaled Bunzell to pull over after he also observed the car being driven unsafely.
However, Morgan said Bunzell responded to the emergency lights and siren with an obscene hand gesture and continued on his course -- although he did not exceed the speed limit.
Law enforcement officials from both the Hood River city and sheriff departments joined the action, setting up spike strips in three different locations. Bunzell allegedly forced police to seek cover when he aimed his vehicle in their direction and then abruptly stopped his car in the middle of the roadway and maneuvered around the sharp implements. However, on his third attempt to avoid the spikes, his right tire was flattened and he was forced to leave the freeway at Exit 47, just east of Cascade Locks.
At that time Morgan said Bunzell allegedly evaded police by swerving north around flashing warning lights and a lowered railroad safety barrier which signaled an oncoming train. When the locomotive was less than 600 feet away, Bunzell allegedly stopped his car to trap the two pursuing police vehicles on the tracks. The lead officer used his patrol car to push Bunzell's automobile out of the way and the second police vehicle sped around the other two cars, with the train reportedly missing his bumper by less than one foot. When Bunzell refused to leave his locked car, officers broke the passenger window and apprehended him. They found a 10-12 inch knife on the floorboard next to the driver's seat.
Morgan said it does not appear that Bunzell was under the influence of either drugs or alcohol at the time of his arrest. He reportedly told law enforcement officials that he thought police were giving him an escort and didn't know he was supposed to stop. Bunzell is being held in NORCOR until his Dec. 10 court appearance unless a $1,000 cash bail is posted.