A Phoenix man faces a felony eluding charge after allegedly leading police on a brief high-speed chase Tuesday night that began in White City and ended in Medford.
The chase began when a Jackson County sheriff's deputy tried to stop a Chevrolet Cavalier for speeding on Avenue A in White City. The driver hit the gas and sped through several red lights on Highway 62 heading toward Medford.
Speeds reached near triple digits as the deputy was joined by Oregon State Police troopers. Eventually the fleeing driver entered Medford city limits and the chase continued through city streets, but was called off for safety reasons, Jackson County sheriff's spokeswoman Andrea Carlson said.
"Even though the roads were relatively clear, we decided it was not safe to continue the pursuit," Carlson said.
Carlson said the minor offense of speeding did not justify a high-speed chase through a city.
The Cavalier was spotted about 10:30 p.m. driving on Popular Avenue. Moments later the car was seen parked at the intersection of Morrow Road and Progress Drive.
"Fortunately, we had some good witnesses who pointed out that the car had stopped after hitting a curb," Carlson said.
Apparently, the driver had struck the curb and bent the left front tire rim, making the car inoperable.
Police caught a glimpse of two men running from the vehicle. Police tracking dogs were summoned to the area but were not able to sniff out the suspects.
A break came at 10:35 p.m. when a Medford police officer caught one of the suspects near Wilson Elementary School.
The man was soon identified as Bernie G. Helms II, 20, of Phoenix.
He was arrested on counts of felony eluding police in a vehicle, reckless driving and reckless endangering.
Medford police Lt. Bob Hansen said his department will usually monitor a chase initiated by another agency that ends up within city limits. Medford officers are barred from participating in the chase in most cases, Hansen said.
"It does depend on the circumstances," he said. "If the person is wanted for a violent crime and is a danger to the public, then we will do what we can to apprehend him."
On Tuesday, Medford's officers were prepared to deploy spike strips to stop the fleeing motorists and to block some cars from entering the street where the chase was taking place.
Carlson said deputies are searching for the second suspect. They have an idea who he is, but will not release his name until he is arrested, she said.
She said it is unclear why the driver fled from the deputy.
Reach reporter Chris Conrad at 541-776-4471; or e-mail email@example.com.