A reckless driver fleeing a Clark County sheriff’s traffic stop caused a serious crash late Friday in what a passenger said was a desire to see if “defunded” authorities would pursue them, according to the Clark County Sheriff’s Office.
The incident began just before 9 p.m. when a deputy tried to conduct a traffic stop on a black SUV with no license plates northbound on Northeast Saint Johns Road in Vancouver after the SUV ran a red light at the intersection of Northeast Saint Johns Road and Northeast 88th Street, a sheriff’s office statement said.
Instead of stopping, the SUV accelerated and ran a second red light at Northeast Lalonde Drive, and the deputy terminated the pursuit under the guidelines of state law determining when a pursuit can and cannot occur, the statement said.
Moments later, however, the deputy saw a cloud of dust caused by a traffic collision on Northeast Saint Johns Road near the Interstate 205 overpass. Responding deputies found that the SUV had tried to drive between two moving vehicles, striking a pickup in the process, shearing the driver-side wheels from the SUV and forcing the pickup through a median, across a road and into a utility pole, breaking the pole, the statement said.
No one was injured in the crash, the statement said. The driver of the SUV — Kostyantyn Kray, 26, of Vancouver — was taken into custody without further incident and, after being medically cleared at a hospital, booked into the Clark County Jail on suspicion of attempting to elude police, a class C felony.
“A passenger in the SUV told deputies they had heard the police had been defunded and that law enforcement was short-staffed and would not pursue vehicles which attempted to elude a traffic stop,” the statement said. “The passenger told deputies they believed Kray wanted to see for himself if this was true.”
The roadway was closed for more than an hour due to the volume of debris from the collision and the need to remove the damaged vehicles and repair the broken utility pole, the statement said.