Freeway pursuit on I-5 ends in crash near Hazel Dell

By Mark Bowder, Columbian Metro Team Editor and Andy Matarrese, Columbian Breaking News Reporter

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A freeway pursuit Friday evening on southbound Interstate 5 ended when the vehicle went out of control and crashed north of the Northeast 99th Street exit, injuring the driver.

The chase began near Woodland about 6:15 p.m. and proceeded south toward Vancouver.

The Woodland Police Department said officers were responding to a report of a man passed out in a vehicle near the town’s Safeway. Officers contacted him and thought he may have been drinking.

The man was able to start his vehicle, the police said, then drive from the scene.

The police later learned the vehicle, a small pickup, had been reported as stolen.

Officers pursued the man south along Interstate 5, and officers were preparing to set out a spike strip farther south on the freeway when the pickup went out of control and struck a center divider near Milepost 6, between Salmon Creek and the Northeast 99th Street exit, according to emergency radio traffic.

Woodland Police Chief Phil Crochet said the truck appeared to have struck a barrier then bounced into a steep embankment on the other side of the roadway, doing extensive damage the truck.

“We’re really lucky he didn’t hit anybody else,” Crochet said.

Crochet said the extent of the man’s injuries was unclear.

The driver, who was not identified, was taken to PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center.

Southbound lanes of I-5 were closed briefly after the crash.

Crochet said officers that night were pursuing a search warrant to conduct a blood test as part of the crash investigation.