By Matthew Hochkammer

Pilot Staff Writer

Dalen Ragan, 40, of Tillamook, Oregon was arrested Thursday following a high-speed chase and crash on U.S. Highway 101 which forced the closure of the highway near Humbug Canyon.

He had been cited for reckless driving the previous day following a high speed chase beginning in California. Ragan was found hiding in the woods near House Rock Creek by Curry County Sheriff’s Deputies and was admitted to Curry

General Hospital (CGH) on Wednesday.

Due to pre-existing medical conditions, Ragan was transported to Oregon Health and Science University in Portland after his arrest Thursday.

First Arrest:

On Wednesday, California Highway Patrol (CHP) attempted to pull over a tan Ford Explorer for excessive speed. The suspect, later identified by the Curry County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) as Ragan, led CHP on a high-speed chase reaching speeds of approximately 90 miles per hour northbound on U.S. Highway 101.

CHP Sergeant Rick Borges said officers terminated their pursuit at the California/Oregon border after notifying Curry County Dispatch.

Curry County sheriff’s deputies responded along with Oregon State Police (OSP). The vehicle was located by OSP speeding near Cape Ferrelo after a witness reported the driver for driving recklessly. Ragan abandoned the vehicle on U.S. Highway 101 near House Rock Road and fled into the brush on the ocean side of the highway.

Brookings Police K-9 unit was requested and deployed in the area to search for Ragan who was eventually found by Sheriff’s Deputy Maia Mello in the gully of House Rock Creek.

Ragan also had his dog with him which was later taken to the animal shelter.

Curry County Sheriff Search and Rescue assisted law enforcement in getting Ragan back to the highway where he was taken into custody by OSP and issued multiple citations. Ragan was then transported by Cal-Ore Life Flight ambulance to Curry General Hospital (CGH) where he was admitted for minor injuries suffered from running through the brush. Since Ragan was admitted to CGH, could not be jailed at that time.

Second Arrest:

On Thursday, Ragan’s father arrived in Curry County from Tillamook to arrange the recovery of his son’s impounded Ford Explorer.

At approximately 11:35 a.m., CCSO received a call from Gold Beach Chevron owner, Everett Amos to report the theft of one of his tow trucks which was proceeding northbound on U.S. Highway 101 out of Gold Beach. Sheriff’s dispatch advised all available patrol units including sheriff’s deputies, Gold Beach police and OSP of the situation.

A sheriff’s deputy saw the stolen truck just north of the Rogue River bridge traveling at high speed continuing north. The deputy engaged in a pursuit. Upon observing the vehicle, later known to be operated by Ragan, driving recklessly and exceeding 90 miles per hour and driving into oncoming lanes of traffic, the deputy increased following-distance in hopes that Ragan would slow down. The pursuing deputy kept in radio contact with dispatch, to update them.

During the chase, Ragan struck and damaged an RV being pulled by a truck going the opposite direction near the Ophir rest area. A Gold Beach police officer who was also responding discontinued pursuit and checked on the vehicle that was struck. The victim was uninjured and damage to the RV was minimal, according to a CCSO press release.

In the area of Humbug Canyon, a Port Orford Police Officer was able to deploy a spike strip and successfully puncture the tow truck’s right rear dually tires. Soon after, the truck lost control, crashed into the guardrail and came to rest, blocking both lanes of the highway.

Port Orford Police Chief Hank Hobart praised his officer’s placement of the spike strip stating that it was deployed in a location which minimized the possibility of damage to uninvolved vehicles. Hobart also said that the placement allowed southbound vehicles to clearly see police lights up ahead, giving them time to pull over and stop so as to avoid collateral damage.

Hobart went on to summarize the event as “an excellent example of interagency cooperation.”

After the vehicle came to rest, Ragan exited the now crashed tow truck and approached sheriff’s deputies in an aggressive manner. He was tased and taken into custody.

Ragan suffered injuries from the crash and a Cal-Ore Life Flight ambulance arrived and once again transported him to CGH. Doctors there decided that Ragan, due to pre-existing medical issues, would need to be transported to another hospital and doctors arranged to transport Ragan to Oregon Health and Science University Hospital in Portland.

Deputies were asked to stay with Ragan until he was transported.

Ragan faces charges of unauthorized use of a motor vehicle, reckless endangerment, reckless driving, failure to perform duties of a driver, resisting arrest and attempting to elude. Other charges could follow.

Gold Beach Police Department and CHP have not released a list of charges at this time.

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