Stolen car chase in Bellingham ends with crash, arrest

A driver in a stolen car was arrested at the end of a pursuit that wound through Bellingham streets early Nov. 2, according to Bellingham police.

The car, a white 1993 Ford Taurus, was stolen in a burglary on the night of Oct. 31, said Bellingham Police Sgt. Mike Scanlon. Someone broke into a home in the 1100 block of North Garden Street on Halloween night, taking a wallet and keys from a man’s room.

Those keys were used to take the man’s car, too, police said.

An officer spotted the white Ford Taurus around 2 a.m. Nov. 2, in the 1400 block of Ellis Street, and flipped on the patrol car’s emergency lights. The Taurus driver refused to pull over, however, speeding north on North State and taking a right onto Iowa Street.

On a straightaway the car hit speeds of about 80 mph, more than double the speed limit of 35 mph, Scanlon said. The road was wet from a day of heavy rain. Officers pursued the Ford as it headed north toward the Roosevelt neighborhood.

The Ford dodged a state patrol trooper who blocked the route near Alabama Street. The driver veered onto St. Paul and Texas streets, blowing through a stop sign at Pacific, Scanlon said. The car crashed in a yard in the 2300 block of Nevada.

The alleged driver, Iralee Ernest Anthony James, 26, was arrested. Once he was dropped off at the jail, police searched the back seat of the car again and found the stolen wallet, Scanlon said.

James faces charges of attempting to elude a police vehicle, possession of a stolen car, possession of stolen property (for the wallet and keys), driving with a license suspended in the third degree, and warrants for traffic offenses out of Cowlitz and Lewis counties.

Earlier this year James finished serving a prison sentence for possessing a stolen Mitsubishi car and a stolen .40-caliber handgun.

Court records in that case show the car, along with a Taurus Millennium handgun, had been stolen on Jan. 9. Two weeks later police contacted three people — James, his girlfriend and another woman — in the 100 block of Kellogg Avenue because they were arguing in public, near a silver Mitsubishi car, according to court records.

James told officers a friend let him borrow the car to change an engine belt. An officer, however, noticed the license plates belonged to a green Honda Accord. The Honda was later found outside James’ apartment, missing a license plate, according to court records.

Police also found James, a felon, had the stolen gun in his waistband and ammo in his hand.

Superior Court Judge Deborra Garrett sentenced him to 20 months of prison time in May 2014, with credit for time he’d already served.

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