BELLINGHAM - A Bellingham man who once led a deputy on a deadly pursuit is now wanted for another high-speed chase - on the day he was supposed to be in court for a slew of driving and drug charges.
Adrian G. Sassen Van Elsloo, who was eluding a patrol car when Whatcom County Sheriff's Deputy Matt Herzog was killed in 2001, was driving a 2013 Hyundai Sonata rental car at 11:40 a.m. Sept. 7, said Bellingham police spokesman Mark Young. An officer saw the Sonata make an illegal right turn at the intersection of West Illinois Street and Sunset Drive. Right turns on red lights are illegal there.
The officer tried to stop the Sonata, but Sassen Van Elsloo sped up, passed a few cars, ran a red light and "blasted through a stop sign" as he made a right onto Cornwall Avenue, driving faster than 60 mph in a 20 mph zone, Young said.
The Sonata driver ignored a few more stop signs, then stopped for good. Sassen Van Elsloo bolted out of the car, Young said. Police couldn't find him. A 35-year-old passenger was left sitting in the car, but she's not suspected of anything criminal.
"It was as much a surprise to (her) as it was to anyone else," Young said.
The car had been rented from Enterprise Rent-A-Car, 1852 N. State St. As of Thursday, Sept. 13, Young wasn't sure whose name it was rented under.
An officer recognized the fleeing driver from somewhere, but couldn't place him. Then a Department of Licensing photo jogged the officer's memory.
Sassen Van Elsloo was sentenced to more than four years in prison in 2002 for trying to elude a pursuing police vehicle and hit and run. A Whatcom County Sheriff's deputy in training was driving the patrol car that chased Sassen Van Elsloo for speeding on Samish Way. Deputy Matt Herzog, seated in the passenger side of the patrol car, was killed after the trainee lost control and crashed into a ditch, striking a tree.
Thursday was the 11th anniversary of Herzog's death.
At the time of the Sunset Drive chase, Sassen Van Elsloo was already two hours late for his first appearance in court for charges of driving under the influence, driving with a suspended license and possession of drugs without a prescription.
Prosecutors allege in July he crashed into a muddy ditch off of the Interstate 5 on-ramp at Slater Road, then tried to hide one bag of painkillers behind a cinder block and another in a ditch.
His speech was raspy and slow when he told troopers his girlfriend had been driving. But the keys were in his pocket, according to charging documents. Sassen Van Elsloo went on to say he was heading north when he "just went off the road" and hit his head on the airbag. Only the driver's side airbag had deployed.
Sassen Van Elsloo refused a blood draw. He appeared to be under the influence of alcohol, drugs or both, according to the charges.
Police released a photo of Sassen Van Elsloo to the public on Thursday. Anyone who sees him is asked to call 911.
"Obviously, he likes to run from cops," Young said. "We don't want anything else to occur."
Reach CALEB HUTTON at email@example.com or call 715-2276.