Manhunt follows violent collision
MURPHY — A manhunt continued Thursday following a police chase Wednesday night that ended in a horrific crash that nearly killed an innocent motorist.
The crash was so violent, the engine of the victim's car was knocked from its compartment and came to rest about 30 feet away.
Juan Granados-Gonzales, 27, of Grants Pass, is in the intensive care unit at Asante Rogue Regional Medical Center in Medford.
His car was struck by an SUV police say was driven by Jeremy Douglas McGhee, 30, of Grants Pass, who is still at large after fleeing the crash. McGhee, 6-foot-6 and 275 pounds, has a lengthy criminal history and was wanted on a felony warrant for meth possession. He has close-cropped red hair, hazel eyes and a goatee, based on a photo provided by police.
The chase started shortly before 7:30 p.m. Wednesday near Espey Road, at the southern edge of Grants Pass, when a Grants Pass police officer tried to pull over a stolen GMC Denali from Douglas County. The Denali sped off south on Williams Highway at speeds of up to 90 mph. Witnesses said it went into oncoming traffic and nearly caused a head-on crash.
According to radio transmissions, about two miles into the chase a police supervisor called off the pursuit. The crash occurred moments later, in Murphy at the intersection of Williams Highway and New Hope Road.
The Denali collided with Granados-Gonzales's sedan as it was pulling out of the Union 76 gas station, spinning the car around and separating it and its engine. The car spun onto the highway's shoulder, its engine about 30 feet away in the gas station lot. A battery flew from the vehicle, coming to rest more than 100 feet away.
The Denali, meanwhile, continued for about 50 feet and crashed through a fence at the Applegate Animal Clinic. The driver took off on foot in a westerly direction. Police searched late into the night and were looking again Thursday. Evidence at the scene indicated McGhee was the driver, police said.
A police dog was being used in the search, near Lincoln Savage Middle School. The fugitive was described at one point as "dog savvy," possibly having left a shoe in a tree to mislead the dog.
Granados-Gonzales is an employee of the Si Casa Express restaurant next to the gas station. He had just gotten off work, according to gas station employee Sam Tigert.
Tigert said someone seeing the oncoming GMC yelled at Granados-Gonzales to stop.
"The suburban (Denali) took out my friend," Tigert said. "Cream-pied him."
The car was pulling onto the highway from the gas station when the Denali struck it on the driver's side, flipping it in the air several times, according to Tigert.
"He went flying," he said of the man's car.
Chuck Meyer, veterinarian at Applegate Animal Clinic, saw the beginning of the chase as he was behind the Denali. He said the officer turned on his lights and the Denali took off. Meyer said there have been about 10 crashes at or near the intersection in the 32 years he's been in business at the location.
"Nice, nice guy," Meyer said of Granados-Gonzales.
Employees at Meyer's clinic often go over and order food from Granados-Gonzales, said Theresa Meyer, Chuck's wife and the office manager.
She said, "He's a super nice guy, hard worker, he's always there." She said Granados-Gonzales also has a wife and children.
Theresa Meyer spoke to employees at the restaurant Thursday morning, who told her they thought Granados-Gonzales was going to be OK.
The Grants Pass Department of Public Safety news release indicated Granados-Gonzales was initially treated at Three Rivers Medical Center, before being taken to Medford.