TALENT, Ore. --
UPDATE: A driver who tried to elude police officers along Highway 99 in the early hours of Friday morning apparently died of self-inflicted wounds when he was being taken into custody, according to the Ashland Police Department.
APD officers responded shortly after 1:30 a.m. to reports of an intoxicated driver near S Valley View Road and Highway 99. When officers tried to stop the driver, he reportedly began fleeing northbound along the highway "while driving extremely recklessly," APD said.
The pursuing officers held back, keeping the suspect vehicle in sight as the driver continued toward Talent. When the driver's vehicle stalled just south of the Talent city limits, officers from Ashland Police, Talent Police, and the Jackson County Sheriff's Office closed in.
"Officers and deputies attempted to order the driver from the vehicle. The driver refused to comply and physically resisted attempts to remove him from the vehicle," Ashland Police said.
During the struggle, officers used a Taser on the driver. When they did drag him from the vehicle, they found that he had "sustained several self-inflicted stab wounds to his neck," APD said.
Medics from Fire District 5 and Ashland Fire & Rescue responded to the scene to begin first aid, but to no avail. The man was pronounced dead at the scene, and Jackson County's Major Assault and Death Investigation Unit (MADIU) responded to the scene.
"Though the driver died from self-inflicted wounds, his death is considered to have happened while in the custody of police officers given the circumstances," Ashland Police said. "The MADIU team is responsible for investigating all in custody deaths. The Medford Police Department has been designated as the lead agency on this case. The driver’s identity is being withheld at this time pending notification to his family."
APD said that several body and dash cams recorded the incident and will be used in the investigation.
Traffic on Highway 99 between Arnos and Creel roads were closed to traffic until nearly 8 a.m.
There are multiple resources available locally to people in crisis, or for those who are concerned about someone else:
- 911 – call for help immediately if a person is actively threatening suicide
- Jackson County Mental Health
- Crisis Center, 140 S. Holly St. – 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., walk-in hours
- 24/7 Crisis Line, (541) 774-8201
- Crisis Text Line, 741741
- National Suicide Prevention Hotline, 1-800-273-8255
(Updated 8/24/20 at 12:45 p.m.)
INITIAL REPORT: Oregon 99 (Rogue Valley Highway) was closed on Friday morning due to law enforcement activity between Arnos Road and Creel Road, according to ODOT.
ODOT reported that all lanes were back open as of 8 a.m.
Though ODOT's Tripcheck reported the incident as a fatal crash, Ashland Police chief Tighe O'Meara said that the fatality was not related to a crash. Jackson County's Major Assault and Death Investigation Unit (MADIU) responded to the scene.
This is a developing story and will be updated with more details as they emerge.