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Deputies end damaging car chase

WHITE CITY — A brief police chase on Highway 62 Thursday night left one patrol car destroyed, another damaged and the suspect hospitalized with what appeared to be minor injuries.

At around 9:20 p.m., Jackson County sheriff's Deputy Ryan Groom attempted to stop the driver of a pickup truck on suspicion of drunk driving on Highway 62 near the White City Taco Bell, Jackson County Sheriff Mike Winters said.

Groom pulled up behind the pickup driven by 44-year-old Nathan Lynn Ramey and turned on his emergency lights. Ramey came to a stop near the restaurant and suddenly threw his pickup into reverse, slamming into the front of Groom's patrol car.

Ramey sped off and was soon engaged by Deputy Heath Kocina, who followed the pickup into the parking lot of Abby's Pizza near the intersection of highways 62 and 140.

Ramey drove around the restaurant numerous times attempting to escape the pursuing deputy. Kocina, fearing Ramey would rush back onto the highway and flee at a high speed, performed a PIT maneuver on Ramey's pick up.

The PIT maneuver — an acronym for Pursuit Immobilization Technique — involves the officer nudging the rear of a fleeing car, causing it to spin out and leave the road.

The maneuver was successful at stopping Ramey's car, but he was not done trying to escape.

"After he was stopped, he gunned his vehicle and hit the deputy's car, totalling it," Winters said.

The crash ended the chase. Ramey was transported to Rogue Valley Medical Center in Medford with what appeared to be minor injuries.

Kocina and Groom were not seriously injured, Winters said.

"They'll probably have some muscle soreness," Winters said. "They did a good job not letting this chase get out of hand."

Winters said Ramey faces several felonies, such as attempted first-degree assault, criminal mischief and DUII.

In all, it was a bad day for Ramey. He was convicted of fourth-degree assault earlier Thursday and was sentenced to 11 months probation. The charge stemmed from a domestic violence incident in November 2008, according to Jackson County Circuit Court records.

Groom's patrol car was "half-way" destroyed and Kocina's was totalled. Each was driving a new Dodge Charger, which are worth approximately $40,000, Winters said.

The deputies followed the agency's pursuit policy, Winters said.

"We don't like pursuits to continue for a long time and reach high rates of speed in populated areas," Winters said. "I'd rather see our cars totalled any day, without injuring our deputies, than have someone hit innocent bystanders."

Reach reporter Chris Conrad at 776-4471; or e-mail cconrad@mailtribune.com.