BMW driver leads officers on chase across the Rogue Valley

Three Medford residents allegedly carrying meth inside a black BMW led police on a high-speed chase through the Rogue Valley early today.

Driver Adrian Thornton, 28 and passengers Rachel Graham, 22, and Jamie Cole, 26, failed to pull over on a Jackson County Sheriff deputy's demand just after midnight at the intersection of Highway 62 and Owen Drive in Medford.

Thornton sped to Ashland and back to Talent before a spike strip put down by officers damaged the car's tires and forced him to stop, a sheriff's department press release said.

A deputy moved to stop Thornton after he allegedly made an erratic lane change and for allegedly having illegally tinted windows, but Thornton decided to speed away, gassing the 3-series coupe, headed for Interstate 5, said Deputy Michael Hermant, who was not involved in the pursuit.

Hermant didn't have details on the model of the 2003 BMW or whether it was modified from its manufacturer settings. "It was BMW and BMWs, I do know they are fast," said Hermant, the sheriff department's pursuit-driving expert.

He added that no injuries were reported and the car's front tires were the only property damaged.

After outrunning deputies and an Oregon State Police trooper on the freeway, Thornton dodged a spike strip near exit 14 by getting off the interstate to turn around and head north on I-5, the press release stated.

"These guys know what we do; they see it on TV. If you don't throw them (spike strips) out in a stealthy manner they avoid it," Hermant said.

It is unclear just how fast Thornton was hurtling the BMW down the roadway, but the vehicle was moving at a "high rate of speed," the press release stated.

Police deployed a second spike strip in the northbound lane of the interstate near milepost 17. That deflated the BMW's front tires, so Thornton slowed down, eventually leaving I-5 at exit 19, the press release said.

"The spikes that go into the tires let the air out in a uniform rate. €¦ It's not like a boom," Hermant said, adding most vehicle tires go flat within about an eighth of a mile after being punctured by a police spike strip, which have spikes about the diameter of a writing pen.

After exiting the interstate, Thornton turned the BMW onto Valley View Road and then onto Highway 99 before rolling into Talent on two flat front tires, and eventually pulling over at the highway's intersection with Arnos Street, the press release stated.

Following a vehicle search, police found 1.38 grams of methamphetamine, glass pipes, scales and packaging materials, the press release said.

Thornton was arrested on charges of eluding police, reckless driving and possession and distribution of methamphetamine. He was lodged in the Jackson County Jail, where he remains this evening on $48,000 bail.

Graham was arrested on a charge of possession of methamphetamine and was booked and released from jail, according to a clerk there.

Cole was not cited.

— Sam Wheeler

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