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Bend driver, 18, tops 120 mph in two-county Hwy. 97 police chase, crashes after hitting spike strips, DCSO says

Bend driver, 18, apparently avoided serious injury in crash after 2-county pursuit, speeds topping 120 mph
Deschutes County Sheriff's Office
Bend driver, 18, apparently avoided serious injury in crash after 2-county pursuit, speeds topping 120 mph

(Update: Adding name, formal charges, arraignment)

'We are incredibly lucky no one was hurt or killed'

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- A Bend 18-year-old driving an apparent former police car in reckless fashion at speeds topping 120 mph at times sped from the Warm Springs area through Jefferson and Deschutes counties Monday evening until he hit spike strips, left Highway 97 and crashed in a field near Deschutes Junction, authorities said.

Deschutes County sheriff’s deputies were advised around 6:15 p.m. of a 2011 black and white Dodge Charger heading south on the highway through Jefferson County “at speeds well in excess of 100 mph,” Sergeant Chris Barringer said.

DCSO deputies learned that Jefferson County deputies were advised of the speeding driver by Warm Springs authorities and had begun, then discontinued their pursuit of the car, which was continuing to pass traffic unsafely, Barringer said.

A Deschutes County deputy spotted the still-speeding car headed south past Terrebonne and began a pursuit, but discontinued it after the driver sped away at an estimated 120 mph. Barringer said the driver, later identified as Liam Byrne, 18, continued through Redmond, at some points on O’Neill Way and Canal Boulevard.

Barringer said he wasn’t aware if the young driver went into oncoming traffic, “but he was passing unsafely, almost-side-swiping vehicles. He was driving down the middle of the highway at one point.”

“He was going to continue driving in this dangerous fashion, whether we were pursuing or not,” the sergeant said. “It was imperative we attempted to het him stopped, which was the reason for the spike deployment.

“We are incredibly lucky no one was hurt or killed during the event,” Barringer added.

Another deputy successfully deployed spike strips at the Highway 97 Deschutes Junction underpass at Tumalo Road, between Bend and Redmond. Byrne's car slid off the right shoulder, through wire fencing and irrigation pipes, and eventually came to rest in a field.

Deputies and Oregon State Police troopers took Byrne into custody without further incident.

Barringer said the 18-year-old had no apparent signs of injury, nor indications of drugs or alcohol being a factor in the incident.

Byrne was taken to St. Charles Bend for evaluation and was to be booked into the Deschutes County Jail on one felony count of attempt to elude police, one count of reckless driving, one count of criminal mischief and nine counts of reckless endangering.

Byrne was arraigned Tuesday afternoon on five initial formal charges: a Class C felony count of fleeing or attempting to elude a police officer and four Class A misdemeanor charges: second-degree criminal mischief, reckless driving and two counts of recklessly endangering another person. He is due back in court in a week for arraignment on an expected formal indictment.

In one count of recklessly endangering in the charging document, a caller is quoted as saying Byrne's car "almost hit him at a speed of over 100 mph," and in the other, the driver of a semi-truck in the left-hand (fast) lane said the car passed "at a high rate of speed."

A Bend-La Pine Schools spokesman confirmed that Byrne is a senior at Mountain View High School.

The sheriff’s office thanked OSP and the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office for their assistance in the incident.

Barringer said they believed but had not confirmed the Charger was a former law enforcement vehicle from an agency in Clackamas County, adding that "the markings kind of give it away."

Article Topic Follows: Deschutes County

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Barney Lerten

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