Crime

Blaine man sentenced for 110 mph chase, crashing into cop car

A Blaine man must spend nine months in jail for crashing into a patrol car in a wild, winding 100 mph freeway chase near Ferndale.

Brandon Richard Heggem, 23, was driving a Dodge Neon with broken brake lights and a missing license plate on Grandview Road around 8 p.m. Aug. 5, when a Ferndale police officer tried to pull him over near Interstate 5.

Heggem, however, sped up as he headed onto southbound I-5. The car reached speeds around 110 mph, weaving in and out of traffic, as Heggem raced south to the Main Street exit of Ferndale, according to charging papers.

He headed north on city streets to the Portal Way interchange, and crashed into a Ferndale officer’s patrol car just before getting back onto the freeway to go south again. The officer wasn’t hurt.

Once Heggem reached the Smith Road exit, two miles south of Portal, he crossed over the median and drove south in northbound lanes until he reached Slater, a distance of about 1 ½ miles. He spun back around and went north with traffic until he reached the Nooksack River bridge, which was under construction by contractors Dunkin & Bush.

A project foreman, Corbin Luna, pulled his company vehicle into Heggem’s path as he approached, to protect two workers who were out on the bridge, according to court records. Heggem crashed into the contractor’s vehicle, ending the chase. Luna wasn’t hurt. Heggem ditched the car and ran. Soon afterward, a police dog tracked him down nearby. He was arrested and has spent the past month in jail.

Police quickly figured out the license plate on the Dodge didn’t match the car’s VIN number. Within a week. authorities learned the car had been stolen in Everett, two days before the chase.

Charges of possessing a stolen vehicle were dropped in a plea bargain. Heggem admitted guilt to assault in the second degree and attempting to elude.

Heggem, a former volunteer firefighter with North Whatcom Fire and Rescue, had no felony history, though he was convicted in December 2014 following a DUI arrest.

On Thursday, Sept. 17, in court, Heggem’s dark red hair had been shaved into a stubby double mohawk, and he wore colorful thick-rimmed glasses. He declined to make a statement before being sentenced.

Nine months in jail is the suggested sentence, under state law, for a first-time felon found guilty of assault in the second degree.

“In my mind, he deserves every day of it,” Deputy Prosecutor James Hulbert told the judge. “The conduct here was terrifying. It was unacceptable. It was reprehensible.”

Superior Court Judge Raquel Montoya-Lewis approved the plea deal. She ordered Heggem to repay $1,224.63 to the Ferndale Police Department for damage to the patrol car.

Reach Caleb Hutton at 360-715-2276 or caleb.hutton@bellinghamherald.com. Follow him on Twitter at @bhamcaleb.

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