GOLD BEACH, Ore. — The arrest of a Tillamook man following a car chase through Curry County on Thursday was his second arrest — and the second chase — in as many days, according to statements from Sheriff John Ward.
The saga began on Wednesday, when California Highway Patrol (CHP) officers notified the Curry County Sheriff's Office of a driver they were pursing across the border between Oregon and California. The driver was bombing down Highway 101 at 90 miles per hour, according to CHP.
CHP pursued the reckless driver through Harbor, but turned back before entering the city of Brookings.
"Reports came in that the vehicle continued at a high rate of speed through the city of Brookings and then continued north on Highway 101," Sheriff Ward said.
A trooper from Oregon State Police (OSP) eventually spotted the suspect vehicle, a tan 1996 Ford Explorer, speeding northbound near House Rock Road. Shortly after, a witness called in to report that the driver had stopped and ran into some brush on the ocean side of the highway.
While Brookings Police brought in a K-9 to aid with the search, a Sheriff's deputy found the suspect hiding with his dog in a "wooded gully" on House Rock Creek. Deputies and state troopers arrived and took 40-year-old Dalen Ragen of Tillamook into custody.
"Ragan was suffering from minor injuries from his run through the brush," Sheriff Ward said. "Due to the location and terrain, a call was placed to the U.S. Coast Guard for possible assistance with an airlift out of the area by a helicopter. Due to the inclement weather, the Coast Guard was not able to assist."
Eventually, the coalition of law enforcement officers and Search & Rescue teams got Ragan to Curry General Hospital. His dog was taken to an animal shelter. Ragan himself received "several citations."
"It is unknown why Ragan was trying to flee from CHP other than information provided from Tillamook that Ragan was reported missing a few days earlier," Sheriff Ward said.
But the Curry County Sheriff's Office hadn't heard the last of Ragan — or so a later statement attests.
On Thursday morning, the owner of Gold Beach Chevron called dispatch to report that someone had just stolen one of his tow trucks and headed northbound out of town.
A deputy caught sight of the stolen tow truck heading north on Hwy 101 just north of the Rogue River Bridge, driving "at a high rate of speed."
According to Sheriff Ward, the driver got up to 90 miles per hour and was driving recklessly, swerving into oncoming traffic and "running vehicles off the road."
"At that time, the Deputy backed off a safe distance just enough to keep the vehicle in sight hoping the suspect driver would slow down," Sheriff Ward said.
Near the Ophir Rest Area, about ten miles north of Gold Beach, the tow truck driver hit an RV trailer being pulled by a truck going the opposite direction. A Gold Beach Police officer left off the pursuit to confirm that the driver of the truck was alright, finding no injuries.
Finally, a Port Orford Police officer deployed spike strips just south of Humbug Canyon, managing to spike both right-rear tires of the tow truck.
"The suspect driver continued and lost control of the tow truck in the sharp corners of Humbug Canyon, crashing into the guard rail and coming to rest blocking both lanes of the highway," said Sheriff Ward.
According to Sheriff Ward, the driver was identified as none other than Dalen Ragan. He got out of the disabled tow truck and "aggressively approached" deputies, who eventually used a Taser to subdue him.
Ragan was taken again to Curry General, having been injured in the crash.
"Deputies followed the ambulance to Curry General and Doctors there decided that Ragan needed to be transported to another hospital due to some pre-existing medical issues. Doctors made arrangements to transport Ragan to OHSU in Portland," Sheriff Ward said.
Gold Beach Police gave Ragan another citation.
According to Sheriff Ward, family members had come down to Curry General to visit him following the first day's excitement. While they were making arrangements to have Ragan's Ford Explorer towed back to Tillamook, Ragan walked out of the hospital and stole the tow truck.
Ward said that the case will be forwarded to the Curry County District Attorney, where Ragan could face a number of charges for allegedly stealing the tow truck, driving recklessly and eluding police.
"Due to Ragan’s medical conditions and being transported to OHSU, he was not taken to the Curry County Jail and there is no booking photo," the Sheriff said.