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Home arrow News arrow Local News arrow Crash ends high-speed chase

Crash ends high-speed chase

The driver fled on foot after crashing the Jeep Wagoneer at the intersection of Old Highway 30 and the east entrance to Baker City. (Baker City Herald/S. John Collins).
The driver fled on foot after crashing the Jeep Wagoneer at the intersection of Old Highway 30 and the east entrance to Baker City. (Baker City Herald/S. John Collins).

By JAYSON JACOBY

Of the Baker City Herald

Two Idaho men driving a stolen 1984 Jeep Wagoneer led Baker City Police on a high speed chase through a residential neighborhood Wednesday morning before crashing the vehicle into a guardrail at the junction of Interstate 84 and old Highway 30.

The driver, Michael Edwin Torrey, 20, of Boise, was arrested immediately after the wreck, Baker City Police Lt. Vern Hull said.

The passenger, Nicholas Colburn Jensen, 17, of New Plymouth, ran from police and hid in the thick brush along nearby Sutton Creek for about an hour before he, too, was arrested without incident, Hull said.

About 15 officers from the city, Oregon State Police and Baker County Sheriff's Office searched the creek bottom.

OSP Sr. Trooper Walt Hawkins found Jensen, who did not resist arrest, Hull said.

Both Torrey and Jensen suffered cuts and bruises in the crash, Hull said. They were treated at St. Elizabeth Health Services and taken to the Baker County Jail.

Torrey is charged with several crimes, including unauthorized use of a motor vehicle, reckless driving, recklessly endangering and criminal mischief.

Because Jensen is a juvenile, he was taken to the juvenile detention center in Pendleton. He is charged with unauthorized use of a motor vehicle, criminal mischief and possession of less than one ounce of marijuana.

The incident started about 11:30 a.m. Wednesday, when a citizen told Baker City Police officer Wayne Chastain than two men had been bragging to others at Geiser Pollman Park about stealing a car.

Chastain saw the vehicle in the residential area east of the park and south of Campbell Street, Hull said.

The Wagoneer's owners, Calvin and Eveline Johnson of east Boise, reported the car stolen on Tuesday morning.

Chastain followed the car with his flashing lights off, until Torrey failed to signal for a turn, Hull said.

When Chastain flipped on the lights, the Wagoneer immediately tried to speed away.

The pair fled west on Valley Avenue, Hull said, exceeding 60 mph, running several stop signs, including the one at Main Street, and racing through uncontrolled intersections without slowing.

They turned left at Second Street, then left again one block farther at Auburn Avenue. From there they recrossed Main Street and headed south on Elm Street toward the freeway, Hull said.

Chastain and city officer Wyn Lohner, who joined the chase at Valley and Second, estimated the Wagoneer reached 100 mph before it skidded and crashed into the guardrail, Hull said.

He said it's not clear whether Torrey was trying to turn right onto Highway 30.

Hull said Torrey ran only a few steps, stopping when Chastain yelled at him.

Jensen continued running west, crossing the railroad tracks and disappearing into the dense foliage along Sutton Creek.

Hull said the Wagoneer sustained severe damage when it tangled with the guardrail. He didn't know whether the vehicle was a total loss.

Eveline Johnson said the Wagoneer was parked at the curb Monday evening, but was gone the next morning.

She said the couple has owned the vehicle since about 1989. It has fewer than 60,000 miles and was in excellent shape, Johnson said. She said it was worth about $5,000.

"The worst part of it is, my husband's golf clubs were in there," Johnson said.

She said she called the company that towed the damaged vehicle, but the employee there didn't notice any golf clubs.

Johnson said she and her husband hope their Wagoneer can be repaired.

At the very least Calvin Johnson would like to get the clubs back.

"It sure has kept him off the course," his wife said.

 
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