New police records show how an allegedly prolific car thief led sheriff’s deputies on an eventful chase through the home of the Eagles earlier this week.
The chase began just before 2 a.m. on Wednesday near Rice Hill when a deputy with the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office spotted a 2001 GMC Sierra 2500 that had been reported stolen earlier in the morning, according to court documents.
The truck, which had a large air conditioning unit in there back, was being driven by Thomas Grimes, 40, of Eugene, on Goodrich Highway near John Long Road when the deputy pulled out and gave chase.
Grimes sped northbound on John Long Road, blasting through traffic signals and a field before heading northbound on Interstate 5 near milepost 150. The deputy wrote in his report that he had to reach speeds of 130 mph to catch up to Grimes who had turned off all of the truck’s lights and swerved in front of a semitrailer in an attempt to hide.
Grimes flew off the freeway a few miles later and continued driving erratically on Elkhead Road toward Yoncalla at speeds of 70-75 mph occasionally drifting off of the paved road and onto the gravel shoulder in an attempt to reduce the deputy’s visibility and pepper the patrol car with rocks and debris, according to court documents.
Grimes picked up momentum, turned north on Eagle Valley Road toward Drain, revved up to about 100 mph, drifted into the oncoming lane through most of the curvy turns, and began throwing garbage out the window at the deputy, according to court documents.
Soon, Grimes put on his hazard lights, slowed down to a complete stop to let his passenger, later identified as Caylla Ritchey, jump out of the car, before he again sped up to near triple-digit speeds just outside of Drain.
In the 7000 block of Eagle Valley Road, Grimes lost control of the truck and crashed into a guardrail, knocking over about seven posts and a city of Drain street sign. The truck eventually landed off the road about 10 feet down an embankment where Grimes crawled out and took off by foot.
Deputies later tracked him down inside a nearby residence and transported him to CHI Mercy Medical Center for treatment before lodging him at the Douglas County jail.
He was arrested on suspicion of unauthorized use of a motor vehicle, attempting to elude a police officer, reckless driving, two counts of second-degree criminal mischief and two counts of recklessly endangering another person.