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Contact: Public Affairs Office, 307.739.3393
A 57-year-old Victorville, California man led a Grand Teton National Park ranger on a fast-moving pursuit on U.S. Highway 26/89/191 north of Moose Junction late Sunday night, August 4. The ranger attempted to stop the vehicle for crossing the centerline several times, but the driver did not yield and increased his speed instead.
At 11:06 p.m., the park ranger contacted Teton Interagency Dispatch Center to request back up as she tried to pull over the driver of a 2002 Ford pickup traveling northbound on Highway 89. The driver refused to stop and gradually increased his speed from 40 to 60 mph. The nighttime speed limit on Highway 89 is 45 mph. Two North District rangers responded to the call for assistance, and they placed road spikes across the highway near Triangle X Ranch. The spike strips were successful in slowing the fleeing vehicle, although the driver continued traveling on flat tires before coming to a stop near Cunningham Cabin nearly one mile beyond the road spikes.
While in pursuit, the ranger also saw the driver toss something from the truck window just before the vehicle came to a stop. An additional ranger and drug dog responded to search for the tossed item, which turned out to be a controlled substance.
The driver was arrested for interference with agency functions, and charged with several additional violations: operating under the influence of alcohol or drugs; refusing to submit to a blood alcohol/drug test; and possession of a controlled substance. While the California man has no current warrants, he has a lengthy criminal history. He was taken into custody and placed in the Teton County jail pending an appearance before the federal magistrate.
This arrest marks the second time within the last month that park rangers have resorted to the use of spike strips to stop a fleeing vehicle. The first incident occurred July 15 when Jackson Police Department requested the park's assistance in stopping a driver suspected of drunk driving. The 19-year-old female driver of that vehicle reached speeds of 90 mph before crossing a spike strip near the Jackson Hole Airport Junction on Highway 89. She was taken into custody by Jackson police officers and remains in jail on multiple federal charges.
Using spike strips can be an effective way to stop vehicles involved in a fast-moving or high-speed pursuit before they endanger others. Neither incident resulted in any injuries.