OCEAN PARK — Sensing that something wasn’t quite right, a deputy in northeastern California “googled” a suspicious-seeming man and ended up catching a Pacific County fugitive.
The Modoc County Sheriff’s Office on March 4 arrested Ivan Dwain Roane Jr., 45, of Ocean Park, on an outstanding warrant for hit-and-run, false reporting and tampering with a witness.
Pacific County authorities got a multi-state warrant for Roane on Feb. 21, after trying to find him for more than a month. They suspect him of being the driver in a Jan. 11 collision that left an Ocean Park family homeless.
Police and court records reveal new details of the wreck and investigation, including allegations that Roane tried to bribe witnesses before running away from the crash — and also allegedly abandoned his dog and pigs when he took off for a remote area on the California-Oregon-Nevada border.
At about 9 p.m. on Jan. 11, a speeding black 1999 Mercedes registered to Roane veered off of Sandridge Road. It tore out four small trees in an empty lot and surged across 240th Place toward the single-wide mobile home, where Nick and Kelly Cobb lived with their two young children.
Nick Cobb, 25, was standing in his front yard. He barely had time to get out of the way as the Mercedes skidded sideways at the edge of the yard, briefly became airborne, and then slammed into his home, knocking it off of its foundation. A PCSO investigation concluded that the Mercedes was going “at least 80 miles per hour in this 45 mph zone.”
“Had the vehicle not turned sideways, it would have driven through the home and would have likely struck an infant’s bedroom, with a five-month-old sleeping in his crib,” Deputy Sean Eastham wrote in his report.
No one was injured, but the collision caused an estimated $10,000 to $30,000 in damage.
Two months later, Nick Cobb and his family are still staying with his parents. The search for an affordable rental has been tough, but they’re optimistic they’ll find a new home soon.
“My parents are wonderful people for letting us stay here,” Nick Cobb said on March 9.
Emergency responders found broken lines spraying water into the wrecked home. They also allegedly found a totaled car that “smelled heavily of beer” and had beer cans and “a puddle of spilled beer” on the driver’s side floor.
They didn’t find a driver.
Several people came to help out after the crash. One of them, Jeremy Cox, told Eastham the car belonged to his girlfriend’s cousin, Ivan Roane. Astoria resident David Foley said that as he and the Cobbs’ neighbor Anthony Cordero helped the driver out of his car, the driver said, “I’ll pay you money if you don’t call the cops. Please.” Cordero thought the driver, who left while he was checking on the Cobbs, was clearly “high.”
When Eastham showed Foley and Cordero a photo of Roane, both men identified him as the driver.
Missing driver, hungry pigs
After the crash, Roane called 911 to report his Mercedes stolen. When deputies tried to follow up, he was nowhere to be found. Roane didn’t answer his phone or return calls that night, and he didn’t come to the door. He left a voicemail for Eastham the following day, but then he allegedly disappeared.
Eastham checked Roane’s residence almost daily for more than a week, but Roane was never home, and mail was piling up in his box. Deputies heard he’d gone to Kelso, or Oregon, or that he’d come back home, but none of the tips led to Roane.
On a follow-up visit, Cox said he’d taken over feeding the pigs he co-owned with Roane, and found a dog inside the house.
According to the report, “Cox said he decided to feed the dog on his own, when he went there to take care of the pigs, because he figured Roane was not home.”
Hiding out where the west still lives
With only one incorporated city, about 4,000 square miles of mostly undeveloped land and a population of less than 10,000, Modoc County boasts that it’s “Where the west still lives.” But the county proved less hospitable to alleged outlaws than Roane might have hoped.
About two weeks ago, the sheriff’s office got a call from a man in the Modoc Recreational Estates, a sparsely developed high-desert subdivision north of the city of Alturas.
“One of the residents noticed this guy living out of a little camper-type trailer on a piece of property up in his area,” Modoc Undersheriff Tex Dowdy said on March 13. “He hadn’t seen the guy around much, and requested that we go up and do a welfare check.”
Deputy Dan Nessling spoke briefly with Roane, who showed him an old Texas ID card. Roane’s information didn’t immediately raise any alarms, and Nessling soon got called away to deal with a more urgent situation.
“My understanding is that the warrant didn’t immediately come up. But something wasn’t quite right, so he did some additional follow-up and research,” Dowdy explained.
Nessling did an internet search and found a January Chinook Observer article about the collision, and Roane’s history of allegedly dangerous driving and unpaid fines. Nessling contacted the Pacific County Sheriff’s Office, where Eastham provided a picture of Roane and a copy of the warrant.
On March 3, Nessling came in on his day off. He and Dowdy went to arrest Roane, but he wasn’t at his campsite.
“We actually figured maybe he had figured out we wanted him and left our area,” Dowdy said. However, when another deputy tried again on March 4, Roane was home. He was arrested without incident.
Back in Washington and on the loose
Roane was booked into the Modoc County Jail, and then transferred briefly to a jail in Klamath Falls, Oregon, PCSO Chief Criminal Deputy Pat Matlock said. From there, PCSO took advantage of the “cooperative chain,” a system in which jails and prisons in the Northwest help one another by transferring inmates from facility to facility, until they reach their final destination.
Roane arrived in Washington on Friday, March 10, and was booked into Pacific County Jail.
Pacific County Prosecutor Mark McClain said that there have been six warrants issued for Roane’s arrest in Washington since 1990. Public records show that most were for driving-related offenses, or failure to pay fines. Roane’s driving license has been suspended for about a decade.
The tampering charge — for his alleged attempt to pay off a witness — is the first and only felony that Roane has been charged with. Under Washington law, hit-and-run is only a felony when the fleeing driver causes an injury or death, McClain said. When only property is damaged, it’s a gross misdemeanor.
So, despite allegedly leaving the state to evade police, Roane qualified for the relatively low bail amount of $20,000. He made bail and was released over the weekend.
“He had to have a reasonable bail amount set because he had no prior history,” McClain said.
Roane is scheduled to be arraigned in Pacific County Superior Court on Friday, March 17.