(Update: Adding dashcam video and comments from Tana West)
Victim's cellphone, still in the truck, was key to tracking it along the way
BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) – A woman driving along Greenwood Avenue on Wednesday happened to capture on her dash camera a hit-and-run crash authorities said involved a man driving a stolen pickup truck.
The truck was stolen in northeast Bend Wednesday morning and was recovered later in Crooked River Ranch.
The driver was arrested after a hit-and-run crash and two police pursuits, as officers were able to track the victim’s cellphone that was still in the truck, authorities said.
Bend police responded around 8:45 a.m. to a report of a gray Toyota Tacoma reported stolen from a rehabilitation facility on Northeast Fourth Street. Lt. Juli McConkey said the pickup had been left parked and running by the victim.
The truck last was seen being driven eastbound on Irving Avenue, toward Fifth Street, McConkey said. The victim told officers his cellphone was in his truck when it was stolen.
A few minutes later, Bend police received a report of a hit-and-run crash at the nearby intersection of Greenwood Avenue and Fifth Street. McConkey said witnesses reported a truck that matched the description had T-boned another vehicle, causing minor injuries to that driver.
Tana West said she caught the crash on her dashcam.
"I saw him coming down and I thought, 'That truck doesn't look like it's going to stop at all,'" West said Thursday.
After witnessing the collision, West tried to follow the truck, in an attempt to read the license plate.
"Well I just thought, 'He's going to seriously hurt somebody and he's going to leave the scene,'" she said.
West, a deputy director with the Deschutes County Assessor's Office, said she had to process the events in real time and make a decision.
"First, your brain wants to think the best of people, right? Maybe he slipped on the ice and didn't know what to do," West said. "But by the time he got to the center of the median, he would have stopped, if you were sliding -- and he just gunned it."
"That's when it kind of clicked into me that he's not -- he wasn't doing something on accident. He was being malicious and doing something on purpose," she said.
With the cooperation of the theft victim, a Bend police officer was able to track the victim’s cellphone in real time and provide continuous updates to Deschutes County sheriff’s deputies, Oregon State Police troopers and Redmond police officers, Bend police Lt. Juli McConkey said.
Around 9:15 a.m., a sheriff’s deputy in an unmarked car spotted the pickup heading north on Highway 97 near Southwest Veterans Way in Redmond. The deputy followed the truck and provided updates to other law enforcement.
Redmond police tried to stop the truck in the area of Southwest Fifth Street and Glacier Avenue, but the driver refused to stop and continued on a brief pursuit that was discontinued “due to concerns for community safety,” McConkey said in a news release.
Deputies again spotted the truck heading north on Highway 97 near the O’Neil Highway and tried to pull the driver over, but he didn’t, so a second short pursuit occurred, again discontinued for community safety concerns.
Bend police and sheriff’s deputies tracked the stolen truck into Crooked River Ranch, where the driver, a 24-year-old Bend man, abandoned the truck near the CRR golf course. He was found a short distance away and was arrested without incident around 9:45 a.m., McConkey said.
"Thankfully, we have a great working relationship with Deschutes County, OSP, Redmond PD," McConkey said. "So it was very seamless. We were able to capture the suspect with the stolen truck in Crooked River Ranch."
The driver was taken to the Deschutes County Jail, facing a variety of charges from Bend and Redmond police and sheriff’s deputies, including first-degree theft, hit-and-run, reckless driving, DUII-drugs and criminal mischief.
The stolen truck, with moderate front-end damage, was returned to its owner, McConkey said.
The hit-and-run victim, recovering at home, didn't want to speak on camera, but told NewsChannel 21 on Thursday she had no major injuries, just soreness, and was happy to be home with her family.
West is just relieved the outcome wasn't much worse.
"It could have been -- a second here or there and it could have been a totally different story," she said. "I was very relieved to hear that she wasn't hurt."