Crime

Ferndale man dies after pursuit by Lynden police

Editor's note (Sept. 6, 2016): Andrian Mondragon, 30, was charged with vehicular homicide and booked into Whatcom County Jail Aug. 19, 2016, in connection with a car crash that killed his father Aug. 3, 2016. He was charged with leading police on a pursuit that ended with the death of Ruben Mondragon-Gutierrez, 54. On the day of the crash, troopers said Ruben Mondragon-Gutierrez was driving.

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BELLINGHAM -- A police pursuit ended in the death of a Ferndale man early Wednesday, Aug. 3, according to the Washington State Patrol.

A blue 1991 Toyota Camry was exiting the parking lot of a Safeway around 1:45 a.m. when the driver saw a Lynden police squad car and darted into a parking space, said Police Chief Jack Foster.

The officer thought that was suspicious. So he checked the license plate of the Camry and found it had been sold in December, but the title hadn’t been transferred, Foster said.

Meanwhile the driver, Ruben Mondragon-Gutierrez, walked into the store, and the officer continued to patrol the parking lot. Minutes later the driver started leaving the lot through another route, to Bay Lyn Drive.

The officer tried to pull over the Camry, but the car drove west at speeds estimated at 90 to 95 mph, and its headlights flicked off, according to police.

About 3 miles into an erratic chase, at Birch Bay-Lynden and Bob Hall roads, police ended the pursuit out of concern for the safety of the public and the officer, Foster said.

At 2:22 a.m. a bicyclist came upon the scene of a rollover crash at Birch Bay-Lynden and Enterprise roads, about 4 miles from the Safeway, said Trooper Mark Francis of the state patrol.

Troopers believe the Camry was still speeding when the car dipped into a ditch on the north side of the road, overcorrected into the eastbound lanes, and swerved back over the north shoulder. The car went into the ditch again and rolled many times.

Mondragon-Gutierrez died at the scene. He was 54. He wasn’t wearing a seat belt, Francis said.

A towing company impounded the totaled car.

Toxicology tests will determine if Mondragon-Gutierrez was under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Often those tests take weeks to complete.

Caleb Hutton: 360-715-2276, @bhamcaleb

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