ILWACO — A California woman who fled from a traffic stop in Raymond on Sunday morning, Nov. 3, was later arrested in Ilwaco following a TV-worthy chase on U.S. Highway 101.
After losing her tires to spike strips, the driver careened more than a dozen miles on rims on twisty US 101 along Willapa Bay, allegedly sometimes reaching a speed of 100 mph on straightaways according to police.
Gina Marie Garcia, 49, of Sacramento faces charges of felony eluding, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine; and reckless endangerment, which is a gross misdemeanor punishable with up to a year in jail, a $5,000 fine, or both. As of Nov. 5 she remained in Pacific County Jail in lieu of $100,000 bail.
How the chase unfolded
Raymond police officers requested aid from surrounding agencies after the driver of a yellow and white 2014 Fiat 500L sped out of Raymond just before 9 a.m. Police initiated the stop after the vehicle was clocked going 20 mph over the speed limit in the southbound lane on US 101, police said.
The vehicle then continued southbound on US 101, reaching speeds of 90 mph towards South Bend.
In South Bend, the vehicle swerved around a South Bend police vehicle and continued to flee southbound.
Pacific County Sheriff deputies and Washington State Patrol joined the pursuit.
Units attempted a spike strip near Milepost 42 that was unsuccessful, before another attempt at Milepost 30 that took out the driver-side tires.
Units tried again near Milepost 17 and took out the passenger-side tires.
The vehicle then continued southbound on US 101 reaching speeds near 100 mph on bare rims before being pitted in Ilwaco by a Ford Explorer driven by WSP Trooper M. Canham. The Fiat then collided into a 2000 Ford F350 pickup owned by Caleb Michalsky of Astoria and crashed up onto a curb and into an apartment complex yard, according to a WSP report Sunday afternoon.
The PIT (pursuit intervention technique) maneuver consists of bumping a pursued vehicle from the side near the rear wheel, causing the vehicle to spin out.
The scene in Ilwaco
Bear Perkins was watching a football game inside his apartment when the crash occurred only feet from his front door.
“I heard a ‘boom!’ and thought ‘Wow, what was that?’” said Perkins, a tenant and manager at the Townwood Apartment complex.
Perkins raced outside, initially believing the car crashed into the building, but was relieved to find it stopped short after running over some shrubs and signs.
The boom he heard was the collision from the trooper applying the PIT maneuver.
Perkins was relieved that two tenant cars were left unscathed out front and wasn’t too concerned about the splintered ‘Townwood’ sign.
“We wanted a new, modern sign anyway,” he said.
Arrested at last
Garcia was apprehended at the scene by officers with drawn firearms. Photos show many law enforcement vehicles clustered around the traffic stop, and one social media comment indicated there were so many sirens it stirred thoughts of a tsunami warning.
There were no injuries during the chase or the stop, WSP Sgt. Brad Moon said.
Garcia was booked into Pacific County Jail at 5:51 p.m.
The highway just east of Ilwaco’s main intersection was closed, with a short detour in place, while authorities concluded their investigation.
—Jeff Clemens contributed to this report