Police chase ends in capture

Photo taken at the conclusion of a multi-county police chase.

Bart Cohn
Photo taken at the conclusion of a multi-county police chase.

Local cyclist Bart Cohn got quite the surprise on his regular route Tuesday, June 26 when he ended up on the sidelines of a police pursuit that spanned nearly 100 miles before ending at Mark O. Hatfield West Trailhead.

“As I approached the intersection of Hwy. 30 and Hwy. 35, I could see that there was a police barricade of sorts … As I approached the intersection, a Hood River Police Officer shouted at me to hurry through the intersection because ‘there is a guy headed this way going 100 miles per hour!’” Cohn said.

Though he didn’t know the situation at the time, Cohn witnessed the end of an incident that started in Madras involving a suspected driver with a suspended license.

Officer John Slyter with the Madras City Police first identified the vehicle — a black, four-door Lexus 300 — at 10:51 a.m. on June 26 and recognized the driver, 44-year-old David Wayne Frost, from previous contact, said Chief of Police Tanner Stanfill. Upon running his name and plate through the Law Enforcement Agency Data System (LEADS), Slyter was informed that Frost had a felony-level suspended license. Slyter then turned on his lights and sirens to initiate a traffic stop on Hwy. 26 near Northwest Earl Street, when Frost sped up and the long pursuit began.

Slyter was forced to discontinue pursuit due to traffic and public safety concerns, Stanfill said, but alerted the Warm Springs Police Department that Frost was headed their way.

The pursuit was on again in Warm Springs and picked up multiple agencies along the way, continuing along Hwy. 26 until it had to terminate once again before reaching Hood River, said Hood River County Sherriff Matt English.

Hood River City Police blocked off Hwy. 35 where it intersects with Hwy. 30 to prevent the driver from turning into the city, said English.

Hood River City Police followed the Lexus as it drove up the switchbacks along Hwy 30 up past China Gorge — at which point the car “really stepped on the gas and was suddenly flying up the switchbacks,” Cohn said.

Cohn heard a short siren and pulled off the road, letting at least a dozen police vehicles pass by.

“It reminded me of the film ‘Smokey and the Bandit,’” Cohn recalled. “I’ve ridden those switchbacks a hundred times or more, it’s part of my regular ride. It’s not unusual to get passed by cars heading up the switchbacks, but I certainly didn’t expect to see a long line of police vehicles heading up in hot pursuit. It was a crazy scene, and perhaps a bit comical too: So many police vehicles in a chase up a narrow, switch-backed road, very much like something you’d see in a car chase film.”

Cohn continued pedaling up the rest of the hill and came to the Mark O. Hatfield West Trailhead parking lot at 12:08 p.m., he said, where he saw all the police vehicles that had passed him parked, with their officers talking outside and the suspect inside a police car.

“Our officers thought he was going to go on the freeway, but he ended up getting stuck in the parking lot,” said Hood River City Police Lieutenant Don Cheli. Upon realizing he was trapped, Frost exited his vehicle and complied with officer commands, he said.

Frost was arrested on a charge of reckless driving and a felony charge of driving with a suspended or revoked license. He is currently being housed at NORCOR’s adult corrections facility.

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