Teen arrested in Hood River after 80-mile chase

FOUR-COUNTY CHASE ended on Interstate 84 in Hood River, when a team from Oregon State Police and local agencies stopped the stolen truck and arrested the driver on multiple felony charges.

Image courtesy of Shannon Foster
FOUR-COUNTY CHASE ended on Interstate 84 in Hood River, when a team from Oregon State Police and local agencies stopped the stolen truck and arrested the driver on multiple felony charges.

A 15-year-old youth in a reportedly stolen truck took police officers on a wild, roughly 80-mile chase from Arlington to Hood River Saturday afternoon. The pursuit ended when a police cruiser rammed and pinned the vehicle against the center median of Interstate 84 near exit 63.

Surrounded at gunpoint by a police squad, the driver, a Plymouth, Wash. teen, got out with both hands raised in surrender. He was arrested without violence.

"It was one of the longer pursuits we've been involved with in some time ... as far as distance and time," OSP Sgt. Kaipo Raiser said.

The big chase, which spanned four Oregon counties, began when police discovered a stolen vehicle.

At about 11:40 a.m. Saturday, Oregon State Police senior trooper Mark Jubitz spotted the maroon Ford F-350, which had reportedly been nabbed from a gas station in the Hermiston area. The trooper followed the truck from the Three Mile Canyon near Boardman as it moved west. Near Arlington, he flipped on his emergency lights and siren.

The suspect driver tore off westbound on I-84, accelerating to almost 100 miles per hour, according to a written report by Jubitz. He and another trooper pursued the vehicle through light traffic.

Near milepost 114, by Lepage Park, OSP senior trooper Michael Holloran successfully punctured the front right tire with a spike trap, but the vehicle pressed on.

At milepost 101, west of Biggs Junction, deputies with Wasco County Sheriff’s Office managed to spike the truck a second time, the left rear tire.

The vehicle continued into a construction zone, while officers followed in a slower “slack pursuit.” The fleeing driver hit several traffic barrels and smashed into three barricades. One barrel got wedged underneath the truck.

Hood River Police set up a final fortification of spikes, two strips at exit 63 and exit 64, but neither hit the truck, Hood River Police Chief Neal Holste said.

At about milepost 63, the suspect driver tried to pass a commercial semi-trailer by sliding into the center grassy median. Instead, the truck lost control on its deflated tires and spun with a screech to face the wrong direction in the median.

A group of OSP cars, joined by Hood River County Sheriff’s deputies and Hood River police officers, caught up. Jubitz rammed into the truck head-on with his cruiser, but the driver started backing up. He hit the truck again, pinning it to the median. Police officers got out of their vehicles, guns raised, and surrounded the maroon truck.

“The suspect threw up his hands and came out of the vehicle,” Jubitz said in his report.

An officer and sheriff’s deputy flanked the youth, took him by the arms, and put him in Raiser’s patrol vehicle.

“It went smoothly,” Holste said of the arrest.

Hood River County Sheriff Matt English said OSP led the pursuit, and local agencies posted up to assist them. The suspect was driving on flattened tires by the end of the chase, he said.

The driver, whose name was not released due to his age, was charged with nine offenses: unauthorized use of vehicle, unauthorized entry into motor vehicle, possession of stolen vehicle, reckless driving, reckless endangering another person, reckless endangering of highway workers, criminal mischief, theft, and failure to perform duties of a driver in an accident with property damage.

The youth was lodged in the regional jail (NORCOR) juvenile facility without incident.

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