Stolen Vehicle Catches Fire During Pursuit, One Suspect Arrest
A Spokane County Sheriff’s Office Deputy located a Honda, reported stolen minutes earlier, along with a second vehicle a witness described as the vehicle the thieves arrived in prior to the theft. The driver of the stolen Honda attempted to elude the Deputy but the vehicle suffered a mechanical problem, causing a fire. The driver stopped, fled on foot and was not located. The driver in the second vehicle was arrested and charged with multiple crimes.
On June 29, 2018, at approximately 4:30 a.m., Spokane County Sheriff’s Deputies responded to a report of a vehicle theft, which had just occurred in the 9500 block of N. Normandie. The witness stated two males arrived at the location in a white Dodge truck. One got out, entered her brothers black Honda with Oregon license plates and stole it. The vehicles were last seen traveling west toward Wall.
A few minutes later, Deputy Matthew Ennis, who was responding toward the area to assist, observed a black Honda with Oregon plates, followed closely by a white Dodge, traveling north on Hazard Rd. near Woolard. Deputy Ennis turned around and activated his emergency lights and siren. The driver of the Honda accelerated to a high rate of speed in an obvious attempt to evade Deputy Ennis. The driver of the Dodge, later identified as 26-year-old Harley M. James, maintained his speed and did not yield for Deputy Ennis forcing him to pass the Dodge by using the opposing lane.
Continuing to travel at a high rate of speed, the Honda hit a large dip in the road which caused it to start smoking. Deputy Ennis slowed his patrol car to avoid damage and attempted to catch back up to the Honda. Just north of Wild Rose Rd., Deputy Ennis noticed a plume of smoke in the distance ahead of him. As he crest a hill in the road, he noticed the Honda parked diagonally in the roadway, smoking, and unoccupied.
Soon after, the Dodge approached the scene. With no additional units on scene to assist, Deputy Ennis ordered James to get out of the vehicle and lie down on the ground. Soon after, he noticed flames coming from the Honda which quickly engulfed the entire car. Spokane County Fire District 4 responded and extinguished the fire.
When additional units arrived, James was detained. A perimeter was established and a K9 search for the driver of the Honda was conducted but he was not located.
A witness identified James as the driver the Dodge truck during the vehicle theft. A check of James’ name revealed his driving status was suspended; an interlock device was required and the Dodge he was driving had an altered/expired trip permit. Dispatch also advised James had a confirmed warrant for his arrest for the same three violations from a previous contact. James was advised he was under arrest for the warrant and new charges. During a search after his arrest, a folded piece of tinfoil, containing several pieces of a brownish colored substance, was located in his pocket. The substance was later field tested and showed a presumptive positive result for heroin.
James was transported and booked into the Spokane County Jail for Theft of a Motor Vehicle, Possession of a Controlled Substance, Driving while Suspended 3rd Degree, Failure to have an Interlock Device, and a Trip Permit Violation in addition to the warrant.