An unsuspecting driver is among two people hospitalized after a man fleeing police in a stolen SUV struck the driver's vehicle on Crater Lake Highway Tuesday morning.
At 9:26 a.m., a man driving a 1999 Chevrolet Tahoe SUV reported stolen from World Famous Auto in Medford struck a white Ford F-250 crew cab pickup near the intersection of Highway 62 and Coker Butte Road, according to the Jackson County Sheriff's Office.
The suspect and the second driver, who have not been identified, were rushed to nearby hospitals, according to sheriff's Sgt. Julie Denney. Their conditions were not immediately available.
Sales staff at World Famous Auto reported the dark blue Tahoe was stolen about 25 minutes before the crash, according to a release from the sheriff's office.
Denney said it wasn't clear how the vehicle theft occurred from the dealership, but an employee spotted the stolen vehicle and alerted dispatchers that the SUV was headed toward White City.
A sheriff's deputy pursued the SUV after spotting it in the area of Corey Road and McLoughlin Drive, according to the release. The deputy reportedly witnessed the SUV driver engage in "road rage" behavior with another driver.
The SUV sped away after the deputy tried to pull it over, and sheriff's deputies attempted to stop the vehicle with spike strips on Vilas Road but were unable to deploy them in time.
Deputies discontinued the chase near Crater Lake Highway when the driver became too reckless. The SUV traveled onto an unpaved median separating Crater Lake Avenue from Crater Lake Highway, then drove southbound in the northbound lanes, the release said.
When it crashed, the SUV pushed the full-size Ford pickup onto the sidewalk in front of Lithia Honda, with both vehicles sustaining "heavy" damage, the release said.
The crash closed lanes of traffic on Highway 62 for several hours while Oregon State Police investigated. All lanes were reopened at 1:55 p.m., according to the Oregon Department of Transportation.