A man in a stolen car led Ferndale police on a brief but wild car chase that topped 100 mph Thursday afternoon, Oct. 2.
An officer outside the Ferndale Haggen, 1815 Main St., spotted a bronze 1990 Subaru Legacy parked in the lot at 2:55 p.m. The Subaru had been reported stolen about two weeks earlier, on Sept. 16, to the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office.
A man in the driver’s seat, later identified as Dustin T. Owen, 27, pulled out in reverse, said Ferndale Police Lt. Bill Hatchett. A sheriff’s deputy, on foot, was hit as the driver left the parking spot. The deputy wasn’t seriously hurt and in fact helped to get the man in handcuffs about five minutes later — after a high-speed chase, a crash, a failed Taser firing, and a foot pursuit, Hatchett said.
The Subaru barreled out of the parking lot and onto southbound I-5, striking the front push bumpers of two Ferndale police cruisers while en route to the freeway. Speeds wavered from 80 to 100-plus mph. Owens exited at Slater Road, but kept going straight through the interchange and got right back on I-5, according to police. Right then, officers called off the chase.
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“Obviously the risk outweighed the reward at that point,” Hatchett said. “Clearly, the suspect didn’t know that,” because instead of laying low, he immediately cut across northbound lanes of I-5 and crashed in the grass, behind a freeway sign.
The driver bailed from the Subaru and hopped a fence to the 4700 block of Pacific Highway. A police car tailed him off-road into the brush, surrounded by smoke from overheated, burning grass. The fire didn’t leave serious damage to the cruiser, nor did it harm the officer.
Police fired a Taser at the fleeing man, but it must not have worked, Hatchett said, because Owen ran about a football field’s length east on Waldron Road. There, a deputy tackled and arrested him, at 3:01 p.m.
For now, Owen faces charges of felony eluding and possession of a stolen car, Hatchett said. Prosecutors could file more charges, depending on what’s found in the car and what crimes prosecutors believe Owen committed during the chase. The Washington State Patrol plans to handle the investigation.
Court records show Owen had been charged with attempting to elude police in King County in January, and pleaded guilty to a felony about a month later. He then was rearrested for a probation violation on Sept. 18. He had been released from King County Jail on the evening of Sept. 26, less than a week ago.