Saudi faces 14 charges in car chase

A Jackson County grand jury Tuesday delivered 14 charges against a 19-year-old man who led police on a low-speed chase through Ashland Feb. 19 before ramming two patrol cars.

A warrant has been issued for Yazeed Abunayyan's arrest, but the Saudi Arabian man won't face the local charges until his federal case — allegedly interfering with a plane crew two days later — is resolved, said Deputy District Attorney David Hoppe.

Abunayyan was indicted on one count of attempting to elude, two counts of first-degree criminal mischief, three counts of second-degree criminal mischief, failure to perform the duties of a driver when property is damaged, driving under the influence of intoxicants, five counts of recklessly endangering another person, and contempt of court for violating his bail agreement, Hoppe said.

When Abunayyan posted bail at the Jackson County Jail on Feb. 20, he signed an agreement that he would remain in the state until his next court appearance. He violated that agreement the next day when he boarded a plane in Portland bound for Houston.

Two counts of assaulting a police officer were dropped by the District Attorney's Office because the officers were not injured, Hoppe said.

Authorities will continue to hold Abunayyan in Multnomah County Detention Center while the federal case against him remains open, Hoppe said.

That case stems from Abunayyan's Feb. 21 arrest on a Continental Airlines Boeing 737, which was forced to turn around and land back at Portland International Airport about 30 minutes into its flight to Houston.

Abunayyan, who family members say suffers from schizophrenia and hadn't been taking his medication for weeks, became combative when a flight attendant asked him to stop smoking an electronic cigarette, the federal indictment said.

The indictment states that Abunayyan began "yelling profanities and swinging his fist at the flight attendant, hitting or attempting to hit several passengers, and speaking or singing about Osama bin Laden and his hatred of women."

Abunayyan on Friday pleaded not guilty to a charge of interfering with a plane crew in the U.S. District Court in Portland.

Police cruisers damaged during Abunayyan's 20-minute chase with officers in Ashland will cost at least $12,680 to repair, said spokespersons from the city of Ashland and Talent Police Department.

An Ashland police 2010 Dodge Charger and 2007 Ford Crown Victoria damaged during the chase will cost about $7,080 to repair, according to insurance estimates, said Sharlene Stephens, an analyst and claims manager for the city.

About $1,252 worth of front-end and bumper work will go into the Crown Victoria Police Interceptor, said Stu Wilkie, a maintenance supervisor for the city. The Charger will need the same repairs, as well as new passenger side doors and front and rear fender panels, which will cost about $5,828, he said.

A same year and model Police Interceptor belonging to Talent police will cost about $5,600 to repair, said Talent Police Chief Mike Moran.

"It was one of our best cars, so it really was painful to see it go out of service," Moran said.

Insurance will cover the damages after a $500 deductible on each of the three patrol cars.

"But it'll end up costing us "… insurance goes up," said Moran. "And somebody somewhere along the line pays for that $5,600."

Ashland police were alerted to Abunayyan's silver Ford sedan after it was seen driving erratically on Siskiyou Boulevard at about 10:30 p.m. Feb. 19.

Officers followed Abunayyan's car into the Safeway parking lot, where it rammed the passenger side of the Charger's bumper, police said.

Abunayyan then headed the wrong way on Siskiyou Boulevard toward Mountain Avenue, where he rammed the Talent police car that was assisting in the chase, police said.

Police followed Abunayyan down Mountain Avenue, across Hersey Street and up Oak Street. The length of the Charger's passenger side was badly dented and scraped when Abunayyan sideswiped the car on Oak Street.

Ashland's Police Interceptor was damaged after an officer used it to pin Abunayyan's car on a dirt embankment at the end of Clear Creek Drive, where Abunayyan was arrested.

Reach reporter Sam Wheeler at 541-499-1470 or email

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