Car chase turns to manhunt

A police helicopter swooped over a fruit orchard on Valley View Road this morning looking for two fugitives who ran away after leading Oregon State Police on a high-speed chase on Interstate 5.

State police noticed a Dodge Neon, with two passengers and a driver, commit a traffic violation at mile post 16 on I-5. When they tried to pull the car over, the suspects sped away, fleeing at 110 mph, and, at one point, passing another vehicle in the breakdown lane.

The driver of the Neon, being followed by state police, took Exit 21 in Talent, lost control of the vehicle and crashed near the orchard. Two of the three people in the car fled into the orchard on foot.

"My trooper was able to apprehend one of them," said Oregon State Trooper Brian Powers. The other two got away. "One was all he could manage."

Powers did not know the nature of the initial traffic infraction, or why the suspects may have fled police in the first place.

"I don't think the reason they didn't stop was the traffic violation," Powers said. "Most people flee because of something they have done previously."

Jackson County Sheriff Mike Winters confirmed later that the Neon was stolen from White City.

Police would not release the name of the man they had in custody, but said he was cooperating in the search for his fellow passengers.

Officers from Medford, Phoenix, Talent, Jackson County Sheriff's Department and one detective from Ashland Police Department were stationed on foot at various locations around the orchard to ensure the fugitives could not escape.

As of 10 a.m. today, police were still searching the orchard for the suspects. —

Staff writer can be reached at 482-3456 x 226 or .

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