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Car chase that injured Oregon trooper started in Cowlitz County

The car chase that ended in an Oregon State Police Trooper’s injury started in Cowlitz County, and the suspect was arrested Wednesday.

According to a Columbia County Sheriff’s press release, Washington law enforcement officers responded to a reported domestic assault and robbery in Cowlitz County on Nov. 11. The suspect, who was later identified as 53-year-old John Sanford Thralls of Longview, fled the scene of the incident prior to the arrival of the officers.

Thralls’ vehicle was later spotted in the city of Rainier by Rainier police, who followed the southbound vehicle on Highway 30 for a short time before being joined by an Oregon State Police vehicle.

Oregon State Police identify trooper injured in chase on Highway 30 Thursday

“While following the suspect vehicle, the officers witnessed it illegally pass another vehicle, prompting OSP Troopers to activate their lights in an attempt to stop Mr. Thralls,” the press release said. “The suspect failed to yield to law enforcement officers and began driving recklessly. The pursuit was terminated a short time later due to public safety concerns.”

However, law enforcement followed Thralls’ vehicle “from a safe distance” and Oregon troopers “spiked” the vehicle, causing at least one tire to deflate, while deputies from the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office and officers from the St. Helens Police Department set up more spike strips ahead of the vehicle. According to the press release, Thralls “resumed driving recklessly, nearly colliding with other vehicles, before conducting a U-turn and driving northbound on Highway 30.”

He also drove toward an Oregon State Police patrol vehicle, which had to leave the roadway to avoid a collision. Thralls then drove toward another police vehicle parked across from Dyno Nobel “at a high rate of speed.” While one trooper was able to get out of the way of the police vehicle just before Thralls hit it, the second trooper, John Jeffries, was not and he was critically injured. He remains in the hospital.

Thralls was taken to Emanuel Hospital to be treated for injuries sustained during the crash, then taken to the Columbia County Jail on Wednesday and booked on three charges of attempted murder, one charge of first-degree assault and one charge of attempting to elude police in a vehicle.

“I would like to personally thank all of the outside agencies who have stepped up to help with this difficult and complex situation,” Columbia County Sheriff Brian Pixley said in a press release.


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